CAMPBELL - Thousands of middle and high school students throughout the country have heard the story of Rachel Scott at school assemblies for more than 10 years. On Wednesday, Campbell-Savona students throughout grades 6-12 learned her story too.
Rachel Scott was an altruistic Colorado teen who aspired to one day spread kindness and compassion throughout the world. She was among the 13 students killed during the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.
After her death, numerous people who knew her recalled how they were profoundly touched by Scott through her sincere acts of kindness. Her legacy lives on through the Rachel’s Challenge organization, a nonprofit that aims to promote schools and communities less susceptible to harassment, bullying and violence.
The organization has grown to reach more than 1,200 schools and businesses annually and encompass nearly 1.5 million people who are involved in its programs.
When students and faculty at the Campbell-Savona Central School District wanted to promote more kindness and empathy throughout the hallways, they felt Rachel’s Challenge was the right medium to do it.
“We met as a student council last year and were trying to decide what our goals were for the upcoming school year. And we decided that we wanted to promote kindness, not only in the school but in the bigger community,” said Lauren Spaulding, a teacher and high school student council advisor with the district.
“It’s just a wonderful organization that promotes the message of kindness that was inspired by Rachel Scott’s life. She had written a lot in her journals about how she was going to change the world one day.”
Rachel’s Challenge consists of five challenges asking kids to consider how their actions affect others, and help start a chain reaction of kindness:
1. Look for the best in others.
2. Dream big.
3. Choose positive influences.
4. Speak with kindness.
5. Start your own chain reaction
The students viewed the Rachel’s Challenge presentation during a morning assembly Wednesday, which left many somber and in tears. Following that, select students in grades 7-12 participated in “Friends of Rachel” training as “Kindness Ambassadors,” where they brainstormed ideas about how to implement Scott’s values throughout the school this year.
The entire community was invited back to the Campbell-Savona High School Auditorium Wednesday evening for another presentation surrounding bullying and violence in schools.
School officials are very hopeful of the program. They hope it leaves a lasting impact on the district and how its students interact with one another.
“I think what we’re hoping to do is to remind them of all of our humanity,” said Spaulding. “The importance of taking care of one another, and understanding that we all have hard things that we go through in life, but we all have tremendous power to just be kind and change people’s lives for the better.”
“I think it’s super important the focus on those simple and small everyday things for our students because they do have the power to make such a difference, one student at a time,” said Campbell-Savona High School Principal Kelley Meade. “I think the other piece of it is to watch our student body be empowered, and I think another piece as we watched the presentation this morning is just looking for the best in others, and how cool it is to have the school community where we all collectively embody that: finding the best in others.”
For more information on Rachel’s Challenge, visit www.rachelschallenge.org.