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Fourth-grade teacher Ann Menning at St. Patrick School in Elkhorn greets students from St. Columbkille School in Papillion as they arrive at her class April 20 to distribute Easter eggs with candy and messages of support to her students, who were mourning the recent death of their principal.

Students reach out to St. Patrick School

It’s called the Secret Kindness Agents’ Club.

And its members – all students and their families at St. Columbkille School in Papillion – have been busy helping others since it formed last November, including a special act of kindness April 18.

That’s when the club reached out to students at St. Patrick School in Elkhorn after their principal, Norm Hale, was killed in a car crash in Kansas April 5.

Among other things, the club made paper shamrocks with Bible verses and messages of condolence and support, and attached them to doors, windows, fences and flower pots at St. Patrick School’s entrance for students to see when returning to school the next morning.

"Our goal is to participate in random acts of kindness, often in secret, in our school and community," said Jessica Rempe, mother of three St. Columbkille students and the club’s organizer.

"Our mantra is, in a world where you can be anything – be kind. We try to participate in activities where students can contribute their time, talent and energy, instilling in the kids that kindness is free," she said.

When St. Columbkille received news of Hale’s death, club members were preparing plastic Easter eggs to place in fellow students’ yards, in a project called "Egg My Yard."

So, in addition to the paper shamrocks and words of condolence, the club expanded the project, filling Easter eggs with candy and prayer cards for all 852 students at St. Patrick.

"Some of our students got to deliver the eggs and meet with kids and tell them we were thinking of them and praying for them," Rempe said.

"They were very appreciative," she said. "We were met with lots of hugs and smiles, and a few tears from the teachers. It was very touching."

Rempe was motivated to start the club when she attended a talk by Ferial Pierson, an Omaha-area educator who developed the concept after the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012, with the idea that showing kindness to others can create a better world.

Since the club began, projects also have included making Valentines for patients at Children’s Hospital, bracelets for Angels Among Us, an organization that supports families with a child suffering from cancer, and Easter baskets for out-of-town children receiving medical care and staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Omaha.

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