In 1999, the deadliest high school shooting in American history took place at Columbine High School. Seventeen-year-old Rachel Joy Scott was the first of 13 victims murdered in the massacre. Today, her family has dedicated their lives to sharing a vision Scott left in her diaries through the nonprofit organization Rachel’s Challenge.
The Office of Admissions at SJC Long Island welcomed Darrell Scott, father of Rachel Scott and the founder of Rachel’s Challenge, to present at the College’s eleventh annual counselor workshop on Nov. 30 at the Melville Marriott Hotel.
School counselors from across Long Island were invited to hear and learn from this year’s topic, “Tackling the Bullying Culture: Awaken the Learner via Rachel’s Challenge.”
A Story Stimulates Change
Darrell Scott believes one of the most powerful change agents has always been sharing stories. “Stories change lives,” Scott said. Rachel’s Challenge was created from the transformational effect that her story has had on those who heard it.
On the afternoon of April 20, 1999, two Columbine High School students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, proceeded towards Columbine High School with shotguns after a failed attempt to set off two bombs in the school’s cafeteria. Scott was caught sitting outside enjoying lunch with a friend and quickly became the first casualty in a massive school shooting.
A month before Scott’s death, she wrote an essay about ethics and codes of life. In her essay she shared a theory she had about a chain reaction.
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 act of kindness can go.” — Rachel Joy Scott
After Scott’s death, many of her friends and classmates stepped forward and shared the positive impacts she had on their lives through her simple acts of kindness. Throughout her lifetime, Scott focused on reaching out to three groups of students: special needs students, new students and students being picked on.
Three Challenges to Form a Chain Reaction
Rachel’s Challenge is dedicated to creating safe, connected school environments where learning and teaching are maximized. The organization has several programs catered to specific age groups, and primarily works with school counselors and administrators to bring change upon school culture and climate.
Awaken the Learner is a Rachel’s Challenge program focused on a process to give schools tools for change. At the St. Joseph’s College workshop, Darrell Scott tailored his message towards the audience of counselors and left the group with three challenges to live out in their lives and spread throughout their respective schools.
- The first challenge was to eliminate prejudice. He urged the audience to be a “seethrougher,” not a “lookater.” “It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see,” Scott said. “You find what you look for. Look for the best in other people.”
- The second challenge stemmed from a quote Rachel left in one of her diaries: “Glory only comes from one who pursues their dreams.” The challenge is to find what life has set for you and set your goals accordingly. Scott urged the audience to have faith and hope and to not limit dreams.
- “As counselors, choose words of kindness — not cruelty,” Scott said. This was the final challenge in the workshop. “You are looked up to by students in your school. Let your word be words that heal and not words that hurt.”
Statistics show that schools applying Rachel’s Challenge are undergoing positive changes in community engagement, faculty-student relationships, leadership and anti-bullying. If you would like to receive more information about this event or Rachel’s Challenge, contact Gigi Lamens at email@example.com or visit rachelschallenge.org.