Columbine victim lives on as a force for good


Photo by Alan M. Dumoff

columnbinevictimsbrother-webIn photo, Michael Scott, whose older sister Rachel was killed at Columbine High School in 1999, speaks to students at Bishop Eustace Preparatory School, Pennsauken, on Tuesday, Nov. 19.

On Tuesday, Nov. 9, Bishop Eustace Preparatory School students, staff, faculty and parents learned about a global anti-bullying project that — although stemming from a tragedy — is helping to spread kindness, compassion, and respect in school students.

“Rachel’s Challenge” is named after Rachel Scott, who was the first one killed in the April 20, 1999 school massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. Two seniors went on a shooting rampage, killing 13 and then committing suicide.

Today, her family keeps her memory alive, speaking at schools and businesses all over the world, hoping to effect a positive culture change. To date, the program has been in over 3,300 high schools and middle schools; 50 states; and six countries.

Rachel’s younger brother, Michael, spoke to Bishop Eustace students and parents in the student dining hall, using audio/video footage of his sister and the Columbine tragedy. Also instrumental to his message was Rachel’s own writings, in her diaries and school essays, where she writes of the “chain reaction” one act of kindness can have.

In a school essay titled “My Ethics, My Codes of Life,” she wrote, “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. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.”

To this end, Michael challenged school students to do five tasks: 1) Eliminate Prejudice, and look for the best in others; 2) Dare To Dream, setting goals and keeping a journal; 3) Choose Positive Influences, realizing that input determines output; 4) Say Kind Words, in little acts of kindness; and 5) Start a Chain Reaction.

After the morning sessions with the student community, Scott met with some 70 Bishop Eustace student leaders, investigating in training and breakout sessions how to meet “Rachel’s Challenge” every day, keeping the challenge fresh in students’ minds on a daily basis. One way discussed is starting a “Friends of Rachel” club to motivate students to act positively toward their peers.

In the evening, Michael Scott met with school parents on how they can influence their children to be positive role models for others.

Saying that the talk “really hit home” to the students, Elizabeth Cranston, guidance counselor, added that the presentation “helped students realize the importance of taking the time to understand their peers, and see where they’re coming from,” and make them see that “small things have an impact.”

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