Friends of Rachel Club meets at Wynn Middle School in Tewksbury. Holding their award is seventh-grader Olivia Axson, 12. Along the left wall are guidance
Friends of Rachel Club meets at Wynn Middle School in Tewksbury. Holding their award is seventh-grader Olivia Axson, 12. Along the left wall are guidance counselors Kennan Daniel and Jamie Noberini; at right, second row, is health teacher Maura Dearing. The club is named after a victim of the Columbine High School shooting. SUN/ David H. Brow

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TEWKSBURY -- They might stick a note on your locker, encouraging you to be yourself and telling you you're awesome.

They might see you pick up someone else's dropped books and hand you a card acknowledging it.

At various points throughout the past year, you might have spotted them collecting winter coats for needy kids, writing thank-you notes to Boston Marathon bombing first responders or crafting paper snowflakes to send to the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut when they returned to classes after a mass shooting.

Most recently, they could be seen on-stage at Worcester's DCU Center, accepting an award recognizing their commitment to kindness.

They're the approximately 40 seventh- and eighth-graders who make up Wynn Middle School's Friends of Rachel Club, an anti-bullying and student-empowerment group.

"We're just trying to make the school a better place," said club member Olivia Axson, 12. "When you see one person do the right thing, you just get the whole school to be nice to each other."

Earlier this month, the club took part in the annual, statewide Stand Up to Bullying conference and rally, where they were one of three school groups from Massachusetts to receive a Stand Up Award.

The award, according to Wynn guidance counselor Kennan Daniel, recognizes innovative and effective programs that prevent bullying.


Daniel and fellow guidance counselor Jaime Noberini nominated the club, crediting its members with creating a positive environment where students feel happy, safe and supported.

"They should be proud," Noberini said. "They worked hard."

At the conference, the kids heard stories from those who had been bullied and got through it with support from friends. They discussed what they'd learned at an after-school club meeting last week.

"People shouldn't be afraid of being themselves," said Liam Flynn, 13.

Fellow club member Isabelle Frost, 12, nodded.

"No one should be pressured into doing anything," she said.

The Friends of Rachel club came to the Wynn School in 2007, one in a nationwide network seeking to create more welcoming schools.

Rachel Joy Scott was the first student killed in the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

To honor their daugther's legacy, Scott's parents founded the organi"zation Rachel's Challenge and its Friends of Rachel clubs, revolving around a theory their daughter wrote down shortly before her death: "... if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go."

A "Rachel's Challenge" banner hangs in the lobby of the Wynn School, asking students to look for the best in others, dare to set dream goals, choose positive influences and offer kind words and positive actions.

The school also shows a video that introduces students to Scott's philosophy. Olivia said that, combined with the advice of her older sister Sara, now a high-school freshman, was what convinced her to join the club.

"I was pretty emotional watching it," she said. "I was almost crying. I just want to be someone else's Rachel."

Follow Katie Lannan on Twitter and Tout @katielannan.