Accepting Rachel's challengeThe 1999 Columbine High School massacre, in which two high school students killed 12 schoolmates and a teacher before killing themselves, left a profound impact. One of those lost in the attacks, student Rachel Scott, had more of an impact than she would ever know.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
The 1999 Columbine High School massacre, in which two high school students killed 12 schoolmates and a teacher before killing themselves, left a profound impact. One of those lost in the attacks, student Rachel Scott, had more of an impact than she would ever know.
Scott, who was the first to die April 20, 1999, is remembered for living a life of kindness, and Lake Middle School leaders are hoping students there can learn from her example.
Lake Middle School held an assembly Nov. 4 where students accepted “Rachel’s Challenge” to start a “chain reaction” of kindness.
After Scott’s death, many people started coming forward to talk about how much she had impacted their lives – for the better.
After Scott’s death, a collection of journals were found in her backpack. The journals detailed what type of person she was, her views on life and what types of things she brought to the world.
One of the essays that was found, titled “My Ethics, My Code of Life,” detailed how Scott showed kindness toward those around her.
It was from that essay that the “Rachel’s Challenge” organization developed.
“My impression has been that she had such a positive impact on so many people while she was alive – that’s really where the program grew from,” said Lake Middle School counselor Jodi Danielson. “Her life was built around this idea of kindness.”
“Rachel’s Challenge” program representatives go to schools and speak about Scott’s life, but then gives the students five challenges to follow in the next 30 days to help carry on Scott’s legacy.
The five challenges are: see the best in others; treat other people the way you want to be treated; choose positive influences; speak works of kindness; and forgive yourself and others.
According to the program’s website, the objective of the challenges include: to create a safe learning environment for all students by re-establishing civility and delivering proactive antidotes to school violence and bullying.
“Rachel’s intention was that she always wanted to make a positive impact on the world,” Danielson said. “Even though in her life she didn’t realize how much she had done that, she continues to affect people.”
For the last several years Lake Middle School has had both an anti-bullying initiative and a positive climate initiative, and Danielson said she felt that Rachel’s Challenge fit in perfectly with what the school is trying to accomplish.
“We’re really creating this positive climate and focusing on that aspect, which plays a huge role in preventing bullying,” she said. “We felt that challenging students to be a part of that kindness is a way to create a more positive climate in our building.”
In addition to the five initial challenges, Lake Middle School will be doing follow up activities throughout the year to keep reiterating Rachel’s Challenge.
One of the activities will be to create a chain out of strips of paper; on the strips of paper will be written the name of a student and an act of kindness that they have shown.
“We really want to bring the whole school together,” Danielson said. “And get us all on the same page.”
Danielson said she is optimistic that Rachel’s Challenge will have a positive effect on the school.
“The students here have really good intentions and do want to contribute positively,” she said. “I think they have really good hearts.”
For more information on Rachel’s Challenge, visit www.rachelschallenge.org.