Rachel's Challenge sparks a chain reaction of kindness

Rachel's Challenge small group discussions

Students at Stillwater and Oak-Land Junior Highs are starting a chain-reaction of kindness and compassion in our schools. It’s all part of “Rachel’s Challenge” an initiative that honors Rachel Scott, who was the first student killed in the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.

Rachel’s uncle, Larry Scott, visited our junior highs to share Rachel’s story with students and the public. The program focused on writings found in Rachel’s diary and her philosophy that one act of kindness can start a ripple effect.

Scott talked about how after Rachel’s death her parents discovered a drawing on the back of her dresser. It was an outline of Rachel’s hands and the words, “These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will someday touch millions of people’s hearts.”

Near the end of the presentation, Scott asked the students to identify one person in their life that they want to remind of their love and kindness. Then, he challenged everyone to reach out to that person within the next three days.

Scott also asked students to accept Rachel's Challenge:
1. Look for the best in others
2. Dream big
3. Choose positive influences
4. Speak with kindness
5. Start your own chain reaction

Students and parents showed their commitment to the challenge by signing a Rachel's Challenge banner. Many said the presentation was very emotional and inspiring.

“My hope is that just one person will change," said Stillwater ninth grader Erika Nahkala, "Maybe if that person stops bullying and talks to their friends then they will change, too.”

After the presentation, a smaller group of student volunteers met to discuss ways to spread kindness among their classmeates. The next step will be forming a Friends of Rachel (FOR) club at their schools.

Rachel’s Challenge was made possible by a Partnership Plan grant along with additional funds provided by Stillwater and Oak-Land Junior High National Junior Honor Societies, Learning Supports and the Office of Integration, and donations submitted in memory of Emmett Nickeson-Ranum.

For more information, visit the Rachel’s Challenge website.