CHS students accept Rachel's Challenge
|On Friday, Cassville High School teens had the opportunity to attend a presentation of Rachel's Challenge, a movement geared toward starting a chain reaction of kindness to their peers and the community.||The challenge was named for Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim of the Columbine shooting tragedy that occurred on April 20, 1999.|
Daryn Jackson, of Nashville, Tenn., presented the video program, which covered the five concepts of Rachel's Challenge, as derived from a paper she had written in the weeks prior to her death.
In her journals, Rachel Scott indicated her belief that she would not live beyond her teens, writing at one point, "This is my last year, Lord. I got what I can. Thank you."
Scott also knew, somehow, she would impact the world.
In her paper, Scott summarized her ethics and goals, stating she hoped to create a "chain reaction of kindness," that would wrap around the world.
"Six weeks later, Rachel was the first person killed in the Columbine shooting where she sat outside the school eating lunch with her friend," Jackson said. "Her brother, Craig, sat in the library and hears what he thought were firecrackers exploding, only realizing later they were the shots that killed his sister.
"In seven-and-a-half minutes, 12 students and one teacher were killed," Jackson said.
Craig was hiding under a table in the library with his two friends, 18-year-old Isaiah Shoels and 16-year-olds Matthew Kechter. Shoels was killed by Eric Harris and Kechter was killed by Dylan Klebold. The two became distracted by something and walked away from the table leaving Craig alive.
"Isaiah was killed because of the color of his skin," Jackson said.
"Rachel wrote about how she wanted to look for the best in others," she continued. "She gave people three chances before she made up her mind about them."
Jackson, went on to say if people looked for the worst in others they would find it.
"If you look for the best in others, you will find that, too," she said.
One of the people who inspired Rachel to do better was Anne Frank, who died in a Nazi war camp in March of 1945.
"Ironically, Rachel and Anne were killed by the influence of Adolf Hitler," Jackson said. "Anne, her mother and sister died in a concentration camp. Rachel was killed on Hitler's birthday."
Both girls had an inkling they would touch the world in some way, and, through their diaries, both have.
Rachel reached out to three groups of people: those with special needs; new students; and students picked on or bullied by other students.
Her family has received hundreds of e-mails since her death of people telling how Rachel touched their lives, and in many cases, saved them from committing suicide.
"Sometimes, people only need one person to reach out to them with kindness," Jackson said. "Words have the power to tear people apart or bring them back to life."
Jackson left students with a challenge of her own: to pick up Rachel's Challenge and make a difference in their lives, their school and their community.
To date, over two million people have accepted Rachel's Challenge. Several students and teachers followed up after the assembly to receive training in the principles of Rachel's Challenge and how to continue the effort school-wide in the coming weeks and months.
Following the assembly, Jackson spoke of the program.
"I hope everyone can take something positive from this assembly," said Jackson. We've had all kinds of positive response, and we've even had reports that disciplinary actions have been reduced in schools following this presentation."
Rachel's Challenge has a team of 50 people traveling the nation to deliver the message from Rachel Scott's diaries.
"We will reach at least another two million people this year," Jackson said.
* Look for the best in others.
* Dream big.
* Choose positive influences.
* Speak with kindness
* Start your own chain reaction.