Rachel’s Challenge creates compassion

By Cassie Jackson — A touch of kindness can go a long way. For Rachel Scott, it went worldwide.

“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,” Scott had said.

On April 20, 1999, Scott was killed at Columbine High School. Two students enacted an all-out assault on the school. Scott was the first to die.

After the tragedy, Scott’s father, Darrell Scott, was compelled. In honor of his daughter, Darrell spoke around the nation using Rachel’s writings and drawings from her numerous diaries. From these, he exposed the knowledge of needing a kinder and more compassionate nation.

This past Wednesday, the program took place at the high school.

Rachel’s challenge is thought to be one of the most life changing school programs in America according to Rachelschallenge.com. Powerful videos of the tragedy and Rachel’s life holds students attention during the presentation that motivates positive changes and how people treat one another.

Following the presentation is an interactive training session.  Here, students from the middle schools to the high school are chosen to propel the message further.  Also involved in the training are volunteer teachers, counselors and principals.  Together they work on improving the schools and community around them.

“I’m honored to be chosen because it is a national program that travels around the United States,” senior Anna Holdren said. “I am hoping it will change our school in the way that it is intended to.”

Holdren was one of the select students chosen to be involved in this program.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” senior Jessie Motts said. “I hope the people that attend will have a better mentality.”

The assembly creates a positive desire for change, while the training session ensures the impact continues.“

“Success of this depends on our students,” dean of students Mark Filicky said.

Filicky’s goal, as well as the program’s, is to see a positive change in the school. Other objectives include reestablishing civility to create a safe learning environment, engage students further in the learning process and supply students with a social and emotional education that is culturally relevant.

The challenge also invites the community to a similar program, ending in a specific challenge. This challenge is geared towards parents and community leaders to strengthen the decisions of the youth.

“If it impacts some people, it is worthwhile,” counselor Gayle Kimbrough said.

Millions of people have been reached with the message. Since this program has been active, it has visited 50 states, six countries and thousands of primary and secondary schools. Because of this, hundreds of suicides have been averted. It is the largest assembly program in America currently, and is still going strong.

“Kindness is contagious,” Kimbrough said. “I’m hoping it makes a difference here.”

Rachel’s Challenge is an empowering program that can change the view one has towards another person, school, and the community.  For more information about the program or Rachel Scott go to  www.rachelschallenge.com.

[Updated Aug. 6, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]