UNION, NJ - Ten year old student, Alexa Rivera, started her Fourth-grade year with a mission: to eliminate bullying.
Early in the school year, on October 2, the student body at Battle Hill Elementary School attended an anti-bullying assembly titled Rachel’s Challenge. The assembly was created in honor of Rachel Joy Scott, who was the first victim of the Columbine High School Massacre in 1999. Rachel’s Challenge aims to create a school climate less susceptible to harassment, bullying and violence. An essay by Scott is quoted as saying, “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same.”
Rachel’s Challenge did just that. The assembly inspired Rivera to start a chain reaction of her own by creating and executing a fundraiser within the school. “She’s always hated bullies,” said her mother, Diana Rivera. “She hates to see kids being mean to each other and it has always really gotten to her.”
With this as her motivation, Rivera created the fundraiser “Pop Out Bullying” with a goal of raising $100 to be donated to Rachel’s Challenge. The Kindness Club, composed of Battle Hill fourth graders Leah Eke, Mackenzie Long, Matthew Montesdeoca, Jordan Brooks, Douglas Callanan, Isabella Caixero, Kaitlyn Castro, Alexa Rivera, Lola Paredes, Emma Santos, Matthew Castro, Sophia Henriques, Suliah Boxton and Bella Pina, and supervised by School Counselor, Ingrid Soares, sold lollipops every Thursday during each lunch period for $1 each.
But there were some surprises. Hidden at the bottom of five stems was a red mark. “If you choose a lollipop with a red mark, you won an ornament for the Kindness Tree at the front of the school with something kind of your choosing written on it,” said Rivera. Some messages from students included, “Be kind, that’s all!”, “Show your good side”, and “Love is more important than anything”. At the end of the month, all of the winners were placed into a raffle to win a grand prize.
Rivera started the fundraiser with a goal of $100, enough for the Kindness Club to sponsor 24 students somewhere around the world to attend the Rachel’s Challenge Assembly. Between December 13 and May 30, Pop Out Bullying raised $1,100 for Rachel's Challenge, enabling the sponsorship of 264 students.