ROJH joins Rachel’s Challenge community

Handprints showing students commitment to Rachels Challenge are displayed in the ROJH hallway.

Gracie Klander

Handprints showing students’ commitment to Rachel’s Challenge are displayed in the ROJH hallway.

Mahala Higginbotham, Breaking News Editor

Rachel Scott, the first of 13 victims in the 1999 Columbine tragedy, started a chain reaction that has left the world full of a little more kindness.

A school essay written by Scott, discovered by her parents shortly after her death, detailed what the 17 year old believed would make the world a better place. “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion,” Scott wrote, “then it will start a chain reaction of the same.”

To build on Scott’s theory, her mom and stepdad began “Rachel’s Challenge,” a national non-profit organization dedicated to creating “safe, connected school environments where learning and teaching are maximized.” During the fall semester, a representative from Rachel’s Challenge visited ROJH to share the teen’s message. During the presentation, video of Scott’s life, along with the Columbine tragedy, was shown, and many of Scott’s writings were read aloud to students.

Following the presentation, ROJH students were encouraged to sign up to be Rachel’s Challenge ambassadors. During lunch, students were invited to sign a Rachel’s Challenge banner, which represented their commitment to Scott’s beliefs.

Scott’s impact is being felt in the ROJH community, where students have started to go out of their way to show kindness, just as Scott showed kindness at her school.

“In my mind, I would like to see everybody do something really compassionate and talk about standing up against people who are bullying other people,” ROJH Intervention Counselor Alzada Benton said.

To add to the Rachel’s Challenge movement at ROJH, chain links will be created to wrap around the school. These chains will be made by students who record acts of kindness on a slip of paper that is stapled into a chain shape with other links.

These links remind students that anger isn’t always the answer to every situation.

“Happiness is contagious, just as sadness is contagious,” Benton said. “I want them [students] to see how people can use kind words and compassion, and build themselves up that way.”

Many students, both 7th and 8th graders, have decided to join the Rachel’s Challenge club to help spread kindness and compassion throughout the school.

“I don’t think it’s nice when people are mean to other people,” 7th grader Briannah Nelson said.

Nelson said since she’s joined the club, she has realized that everyone is the same, and that no one should pick on anyone else.

“It [Rachel’s Challenge] has made me realize that bullies also have problems,” Nelson said.

Other students who have joined Rachel’s Challenge have realized that kindness is truly important to the world, and that it is crucial to keep compassion flowing everywhere they go.

“Rachel’s story was inspiring,” 7th grader Alexis Swearingen said. “It made me realize how much good is in the world.”