Over a decade after her death in the senseless and tragic shootings at Columbine High School, Rachel Scott continues to make a difference in the lives of teens and adults.
On Thursday, Dec. 4, the public was invited to learn about Rachel's Challenge, an award-winning program presented to students at the Barnesville high and middle schools earlier that day.
The presenter, Sam Downing, said that of the 10 states he has visited this school year alone, he found Barnesville students to be both attentive and respectful.
"You should be very proud of them, especially if you are a parent," he said.
Downing also praised the staff and administration.
"I couldn't have been more impressed," he said.
Middle School Principal Julie Erwin, who was instrumental in bringing the program to the district, was pleased by the turnout Thursday evening and especially proud that so many students returned to hear Rachel's message and take the challenge to "start a chain reaction."
Students at the high school have formed a "Friends of Rachel" program that will meet regularly to help promote kindness and tolerance on a permanent basis. At the middle school level, students have formed a counterpart group, the Chain Links Club. Individual and business support of both programs in the form of money and time are needed. For more information about how you can help, contact principal Erwin or high school principal Jeff Crosier.
On display in the cafeteria was a banner signed by students who have pledged to take the challenge.
Downing, who is a friend of the Scott family, said Rachel would now be 27 had she lived. Downing showed part of documentary on the Columbine shooting, the worst school shooting in American history, to help put the program in context for the students.
Downing presented students and adults with five challenges based on the writings and actions of Rachel Scott, who was the first of 13 people -- 12 students and one teacher to die in the Columbine High School shootings.
The five challenges are:
1. Look for the best in others.
2. Dare to dream (write down goals.)
3. Choose positive influences.
4. Live a lifestyle of kind words and little acts of kindness.
5. Start a chain reaction.
"These are things that any of us could do to positively change our world," Downing said. "Rachel's family feels that when people like you hear her story and take her challenge, your hands become an extension of her hands."
Over 13 million people have heard the program.
Read more about how Rachel's Challenge has impacted students at both Barnesville and Union Local schools in the Dec. 15 edition.