Rachel's Club Making a Difference

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Education: Organization aims to put an end to bullying

By Tris DeRoma

Whether it’s a hand up, a hand out or just a hand, students in Los Alamos Middle School’s Friends of Rachel Club have been setting an example by using their hands for good.

Whether it’s by giving out random “kindness” bags to students they pass in the hallway or by making posters, members of the Friends of Rachel Club are always finding creative ways to carry out their number one mission.

“We plan ways to keep people aware and informed about bullying and why they shouldn’t do it,” said club member Aubrey Hollon.

The club’s latest project has become a runaway success; just check the LAMS’ cafeteria wall. The club has recently been raising money by having anyone that wants to, dip their hand in some non-toxic paint and press their palm onto a section of the middle school’s interior cafeteria wall.

So, why the obsession with hands? According to Rachel’s Club member Esperanza Tapia, the club is an affiliate of the Rachel’s Challenge organization, which was founded by Rachel Scott’s parents shortly after she was killed in 1999 during the Columbine High School massacre.

Tapia explained that shortly after her death, her parents discovered something behind their late daughter’s dresser that gave them the idea for the foundation.

“She had two handprints behind her dresser and underneath them it said, “These hands will change a million lives,” Tapia said.

The club’s sponsor and teacher Julia Agnew, said Scott was the first victim in the Columbine shooting.

“Her family, rather than dissolve into grief, took the loss of Rachel and created an organization called Rachel’s Challenge,” said Agnew. “Its purpose is to challenge individuals to stop bullying in the school environment.
Club member Christine Carr said one of the Friends of Rachel Clubs’ primary purposes is to stop bullying before it begins.

“I think it’s really nice to have it at the middle school,” Carr said. “Most of the elementary schools have never heard of Rachel’s Challenge, but at least when they get to the middle school they will be informed enough not to become bullies in high school.”

Besides the handprint project and handing out kindness bags full of candy and toys to those they meet in the hallway, the club has experimented with giving random high fives to kids and helping out a family in need at Christmas time, by giving them baked goods and gifts. They’ve also given cards to staff, as well as chocolate bars to the bus drivers. The money raised through the handprint project helps fund the other activities.

This year, Agnew said, they are planning a project around cyber bullying, collecting Halloween candy for soldiers overseas and making T-shirts advertising the club and other projects.