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Rachel's Challenge spreads message of kindness

Students and parents crowded into the Frontier High School auditorium Thursday for Rachel's Challenge, the No. 1 school assembly program in the country. The presentation was held in the evening instead due to high demand.

Rachel's Challenge was created in memory of 17-year-old Rachel Scott, the first student killed in the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. On April 20, 1999, students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered the school armed with guns and bombs with intentions of massacring many of their peers. Rachel Scott chose to eat her lunch outside that day, and it was there she was shot and killed.

Started by her father, Darrell Scott, the program is intended to spread the lessons of his daughter. Rachel dreamed that kindness and compassion is something that everyone should practice daily. "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," Rachel wrote in an essay called "My Ethics, My Codes of Life" two months before she was killed. "People will never know how far a little kindness can go."

Rachel was known as someone who always sought out the best in people. There are numerous stories of her helping students who otherwise felt that they were alone. She sought out the disabled, new students at school, and the picked-on or put down.

Rachel lived by five specific lessons. Eliminate racism, dare to dream, choose positive influences, use kind words, and finally start a chain reaction. The last lesson, "Start a chain reaction" is the main message of the Rachel Challenge presentation.

"None of this would have been possible without time, hard work, a strong message, and a dedicated group of people who have a heart for this," says Mike Hills, one of the many presenters at Rachel's Challenge. "Darrell Scott is really the back of it all."

Columbine happened nearly a decade ago, but presenters at Rachel's Challenge believe that students need to be reminded about the massacre.

"Compassion and kindness is something that should never go away in schools," says Hills. "Kids should learn what happened regardless of the time frame." Frontier Middle School's Character Club brought the program to the district.
Character Club advisers Kim Barry and Jennifer Betz said in a joint statement that "we continually search for activities and programs that will help to promote good character in our building. As middle school is typically a place where students are trying so hard to fit in and be part of a group, we felt there is no better place than our middle school to start a chain reaction of kindness and compassion."

Emily Carson is a junior at Frontier.

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