On a gray 48-degree, drizzly fall morning two dozen Clover High School students met in the new Applied Technology Center cafeteria to think of ways to brighten a day for their peers and community.
Led by Bailey Jackson, ninth-grade academy administrative assistant and boys basketball coach, the Friends of Rachel club assembles twice a month at 7:45 a.m. The idea, based on partnering with Rachel’s Challenge to continue the chain reaction of kindness and compassion in the school and community, is shown by example even within the group as one student sat alone before the start of the meeting.
“Do you want to sit at this table?” a student asked.
“There’s not enough room,” the lone student replied.
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“Yes, there is, come on,” the student replied, making room.
Last week, the group prepared for this week’s “Spirit Week” that ends Friday, Oct. 19, with a walk from downtown into Memorial Stadium before the football game. FOR students will be joined by Oakridge and Clover middle-schoolers, and Blue Eagles Academy students, who, once inside the stadium, will unveil their chain of paper links declaring their commitment to performing acts of kindness.
“I hope that it goes really well and a lot of people participate,” said senior Marissa Traver.
The main purpose is to get the community involved.
“The whole concept is to have the business community allow students to come in to perform acts of kindness, for example to bag and take groceries out to cars,” district public information officer Mychal Frost said.
Every day this week, the students have planned to promote acts of kindness.
“Monday for kindness week, this table needs to come up with something creative,” said Beth Collins, teaching advanced reading.
School announcements and posters the students make will promote their daily dose of good acts, including Tweet Tuesday, Wall Post Wednesday, Thankful Thursday (leaving Post-it notes of thanks on lockers) and making cookies for teachers, all ending with High Five Friday and the walk.
“It’s to get our name and purpose out into the community,” Jackson said. “Hopefully, we’ll make a big entrance into the stadium.”
The table of about 10 students shouted out their idea, “Make a friend Monday. Talk to someone you don’t know.”
The new group also is encouraging students, some of whom are student council members, to apply to become club officers.
“Take part in the club from a different perspective,” Jackson encouraged.
The students also talk about issues they are concerned about. While sophomore Sydney Sanders, 15, said she hasn’t experienced or seen bullying, “we know it happens. I joined because it will help our school in a lot of ways.”
For example, a group of student point out a new Facebook page that has surfaced naming the “10 fakest people.”
“This group will attack it by ...” Jackson leads and then shares an example, “Writing we’re Friends of Rachel Club and we’re about kindness.”
This is one way Jackson knows the new club is making a difference – by raising the alarm to acts of bullying – “so I think slowly it will take hold.”
Jackson says in today’s technological world “there are more opportunities to bully without having to do it face to face.”
Guidance counselor Rhonda Morris said, “Students here are really concerned about the feelings of other students and want to make it an enjoyable place for them.”
The main goal of the club is to help create a permanent cultural change in the school.
“I joined because I want to make an impact and know if you put kindness in, you’ll get kindness out and the better our school will be,” said junior Adam Moore, 16.
That’s exactly what Jackson is hoping for.
“This is a great school and hopefully, we can make it even better,” he said. “My goal and their goal is just to make this a better, friendlier place.”
Businesses that would like to get involved with Rachel’s Challenge may call school board member Sherri Ciurlik at 803-631-0005 or 803-322-6491.