PARKERSBURG - Kindness prevails at Edison Middle School.
Students sit and talk with a student who is sitting alone in the lunchroom. Or walk with a student who is walking alone in the hallways.
Students greet new students to the school. They thank bus drivers, janitors and cooks for their efforts at Edison Middle School.
Delivering a plate of homemade cookies to Parkersburg Police Department Patrolman A.V. Stout are, from left, Edison Middle School students Avery Eddy, Rebekah Roach, Sarah Sparaco, Brooke Buchanan, Rachel Forshey and Austin Hall.
Displaying cookies they made and delivered to firefighters and law enforcement officers in Parkersburg are members of Edison Middle School’s F.O.R. Club. Front row from left are Sarah Sparaco, Rebekah Roach, Sydney Sharp, Emily Cooke and Kaylea Wilson. Standing from left are Sophia Miller, Austin Hall, Avery Eddy, Rachel Cogar, Kaylee Litman, Molly Miller, Grace Rhodes and Brooke Buchanan.
A bulletin board at Edison carries the message: "Hey, I just met you and this is crazy but here's an act of kindness so try it maybe." It is signed by the F.O.R. Club.
The F.O.R. Club stands for Friends of Rachel, part of Rachel's Challenge, a national anti-bullying program.
The kindness program, supported by a grant, began at Edison during the 2011-12 school year and is going strong in its second year.
The program is named for Rachel Scott, the first person killed in the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado on April 20, 1999.
Last week, F.O.R. Club members baked cookies and delivered them to firefighters and law enforcement officers in Parkersburg.
Accompanying the cookies were thank-you cards for the firefighters and police officers and everyday heroes certificates.
"That was very thoughtful and cool what the Edison kids did, bringing us a plate of warm cookies and the everyday heroes certificate," said Shawn Graham, chief deputy with the Wood County Sheriff's Department.
Graham is impressed that the local students are honoring Rachel Scott by spreading kindness at school and in the community.
The students meet twice a week in the rooms of Cherish George, seventh-grade science teacher, and Chasity Rice, seventh-grade language arts teacher, to decide on their targeted acts of kindness. George and Rice serve as mentors, but they said the students run the program.
The students raised money to give restaurant cards to the janitors and to help epileptic children. They helped a fellow student raise awareness for epilepsy by wearing purple on March 26, National Epilepsy Awareness Day.
F.O.R. Club member Avery Eddy, a seventh-grader, appreciates the kindness promoted by Rachel's Challenge.
Eddy said the club made him feel welcome as a new student at Edison when his family moved here from Ohio. Avery's father, Mike Eddy, is the new head football coach at Parkersburg South High School
"We don't judge students by their clothes; we welcome all students," said seventh-grader Austin Hall.
"If we see someone sitting alone at lunch or walking alone, we will talk to them," Hall said. He said it was a way to meet new friends.
Rebekah Roach, a seventh-grader, said the club and program teach students to think about others instead of themselves.
"It teaches it is not all about you," Eddy added.
Eddy said he was recruiting new members for the club.
About 60 students at Edison are active in the program. Teachers said they have seen a growing atmosphere of kindness since Rachel's Challenge began.
The F.O.R. Club collaborated with the West Virginia Central Credit Union to construct a float for the 2012 Parkersburg Christmas Parade.
"We took third place and had a great time promoting kindness in our community by wearing different candy bar costumes," said George.
Parade costumes included "M,M&M - Motivate and Make Merry!" and "Be N.E.R.D.S.- Never Ending Relentless Do-Gooders!"