Coventry students accept 'Rachel's Challenge'
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Coventry - posted Tue., Nov. 15, 2011
Rachel Joy Scott was described as a beautiful, intelligent, compassionate 17-year-old girl, a devout Christian with an easy smile and an outgoing personality. On April 20, 1999, she was the first victim of the Columbine High School massacre, shot to death by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold as she ate lunch with her friend, Richard Castaldo, on the lawn outside the school library. Twelve students and one teacher were killed that day, before Harris and Klebold took their own lives.
Rachel's funeral on April 24, 1999, was attended by more than 2,000 people and was televised throughout the nation. It was the most-watched event on CNN up to that point, surpassing even the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. Since then, Rachel has touched millions of lives throughout the world, largely due to the efforts of Rachel’s Challenge, an organization founded in her memory with a mission to “inspire, equip and empower every person to create a permanent positive culture change in their school, business and community by starting a chain reaction of kindness and compassion.”
On Nov. 9, Rachel’s uncle, Larry Scott, brother of her father, Darrell, brought Rachel’s Challenge to Coventry High School. The presentation included news footage from Columbine, and photos of Rachel, her family and her friends. It included interviews with her friends and her brother, Craig. Especially striking were the words of a developmentally-disabled student from Columbine, who claimed that Rachel’s kindness had saved him from suicide. The presentation was compelling, and it moved members of the audience to tears.
Rachel’s Challenge is based on an essay that Rachel’s father discovered in her room shortly after her funeral, an essay written just six weeks before her death, outlining what Rachel called “My Ethics, My Codes of Life.”
“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,” she wrote.
Following the tenets of Rachel’s essay, and of thoughts set down in six diaries that she left behind, Larry Scott’s presentation set a number of challenges before the Coventry students:
1. Look for the best in others.
2. Dream big and don’t give up on your dreams.
3. Choose positive influences and be a positive influence.
4. Speak with kindness.
5. Start a chain reaction of kindness.
After Rachel’s death, her parents discovered an outline she’d done of her hands at the age of 13. Inside the outline she’d written, “These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will some day touch millions of people's hearts."
“Sixteen million people around the world have heard Rachel’s story,” said Larry Scott.
For more information about Rachel’s Challenge, go to www.rachelschallenge.org.