Many of the students in the Fulton Junior High School were not even born in April of 1999 when the unthinkable happened. Two students entered Columbine High School in Colorado and opened fire on their fellow students and teachers killing thirteen and injuring 21 more before turning the gun on themselves.
The first person killed during this horrific massacre was 17-year-old Rachel Joy Scott. Rachel believed that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same, and since her death, her father has used her story to do just that. Sharing her story and writings including Rachel’s Code of Ethics, Rachel’s Challenge has been presented to over 18 million young people in thousands of schools each year.
The positive upbeat message at FJHS talked about becoming a kinder, more compassionate school and the importance of beginning that on a personal level.
Alex Jackson, a presenter for Rachel’s Challenge, introduced the students to Rachel and her beliefs through family video and Rachel’s own words. Rachel was a prolific writer who kept several journals and diaries. The crowd also saw video of people who knew Rachel in school and in the community who shared how she had touched their lives with her compassion and how their future was impacted by her kindness.
The presentation also included Rachel’s challenges for young people including: 1) look for the best in others and eliminate prejudice; 2) treat others the way you want to be treated; 3) choose positive influences; 4) speak words of kindness, not cruelty; and 5) forgive yourself and others.
Students who pledged make the effort to become kinder more compassionate individuals signed a banner which will be displayed at the school and a Friends of Rachel Club was formed where future activities are planned to continue to build on the atmosphere of family and community at the school.
Rachel’s Challenge is a proactive approach to school violence and bullying and seeks to create a safe learning environment for students. The presentation tied closely with the Dignity For All Students Act which put in place procedures for the creation of school environments free of discrimination and harassment, and which aligns with the FCSD’s and FJHS’s Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) expectations of being respectful, responsible and safe.
For more information about Rachel’s Challenge, visit the Rachel’s Challenge website at www.rachelschallenge.org.