Though they may not have been born in April of 1999 when tragedy struck Columbine High School in Colorado, students at Fulton Junior High School were recently challenged to show kindness the same way one of the fallen students at Columbine once did.
Rachael Scott, the first person killed in the Columbine massacre, believed that one person could make a difference in the world by a simple act of kindness. Rachael also believed that a simple act of kindness could start a positive chain reaction throughout a community.
Realizing just how many lives Rachel impacted by using this philosophy, her father created Rachel’s Challenge, which challenges millions of students each year to live their lives the way his daughter once did, with kindness and compassion.
The challenge recently came to FJHS, providing students with a background on Rachel’s life leading up to the Columbine tragedy, and sharing excerpts from journals and diaries Rachel kept and wrote in daily.
Nicole Voelkel, a presenter for Rachael’s Challenge, introduced students to Rachel’s beliefs through family photos and videos of those who knew Rachel best. Voelkel said the goal of Rachel’s Challenge is to make a positive impact and change the culture throughout schools by reminding students that they can make a difference.
“Kids are looking to know what they can do to make a difference,” Voelkel said. “And at Rachel’s Challenge, we don’t curse darkness; we shine a light.”
The presentation also included Rachel’s challenges for students. The challenges included leaving a legacy of kindness, showing compassion, practicing pre-acceptance and not to pre-judge, learning from your mistakes and forgiving yourself and others.
Throughout the presentation, Voelkel asked several questions to see how many students could relate to Rachel and the five challenges. At one point, Voelkel asked students if they ever had a fight with one of their siblings.
The question was based on Rachel’s brother, Craig, who had a fight with Rachel on the day she died. In a video shown during the presentation, Craig said he was mad at Rachel for badgering him about being late for school. When Rachel dropped him off at school, he slammed the door shut without saying anything. The next time Craig would see Rachel, it would be at her funeral.
Craig said he struggled greatly with the guilt, but noted that Rachel would have forgiven him, so he also needed to forgive himself.
At the end of the presentation, students that chose to accept Rachel’s challenges to become kinder and more compassionate took turns signing a banner to note their support of the cause.
For more information on Rachel’s Challenge, visit www.rachelschallenge.org