Tewksbury Middle School Students Energized After Anti-Bullying Conference

Seventh graders at the Wynn Middle School presented anti-bullying strategies to the Assistant Principal and members of the Friends of Rachel Club.

who attended "Stand Up 2011," an anti-bullying conference in December at Northeastern University presented projects and strategies to students and Assistant Principal Geraldine Cummings at the “Friends of Rachel” meeting on Thursday afternoon. 

For the last five years, the PAC at the Wynn has sponsored a beginning-of-the-year assembly during which 7th-graders are introduced to Rachel's Challenge, and 8th-graders are reminded to keep Rachel's legacy alive, according to 7th Grade Guidance Counselor Kennan Daniel.

“The club begins meeting shortly thereafter and continues to meet every other week after school to help promote positive social change in school,” she said.

The club is one of the most popular in the school, with 65 members, although any student can attend and participate in activities, Daniel said. 

The nation-wide club is named after Rachel Scott who was the first student to die in the Columbine shooting in 1999. According to the club's website, "her acts of kindness and compassion coupled with the contents of her six diaries have become the foundation for one of the most life-changing school programs in America."

The 20 students who attend the Dec. 13 conference were chosen at random from a pool of applicants who were actively involved in the organization and were also in good academic standing.

"We had 35 students apply for the 20 spots," Daniel said.

She explained that these students will also be in charge of spearheading the ideas presented on Thursday. "Most are 7th-graders, which means the club will likely be able to carry these ideas forward into the next school year under the same leadership, " she added. The students who attended agreed that the conference was inspirational and full of ideas to combat bullying.

Ideas presented included a recruitment letter, paper chains carrying compliments that would be linked around the school, a Pink T-Shirt Day and a Dance-Off All were positively received by the group and will be voted on at the next meeting.  

Lauren Riccardi and Sarah DeLuca-Gifford presented the Pink T-Shirt Day idea. They explained that the idea originated at a school where a boy was ridiculed for wearing a pink tee shirt. Instead of confronting the bullies, two other boys took a supportive approach by wearing pink tee shirts the next day. Riccardi and DeLuca-Gifford said they leaned a lot at the conference, described it as "inspiring for our school." They added that it was nice to see how open other kids were about bullying.

The paper chain project was presented by Lauren Polimeno, Natalie Veloz and Meagan Timmins who proposed having a chain full of compliments long enough to hang as one continuous chain on the walls of the school.

Skyla Holmes and Danny Pazyra presented the bulletin board as an informative approach. The board would have anti-bullying information, messages and ways to stop it, they explained.

But the Dance-Off suggestion elicited the most discussion. Presented by Danielle Kerber and Sara Axson, they said it would also serve as a fund-raiser. In addition to participants obtain pledges, the group could sell tickets to students, parents and staff to watch.

Cummings and Daniel both expressed their support for the ideas, but reminded students of the work involved, and that they could not accomplish all of this in one year. 

To emphasize the importance of the State's anti-bullying mandate, Gov. Deval Patrick, on Friday, declared Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012 as "NO NAME CALLING DAY" TO PROMOTE ANTI-BULLYING AWARENESS."

Daniel said the club was not yet aware of the Governor's declaration when it met Thursday, but she was assured that the students "would jump on board to get the school to participate."


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