Rachel’s Challenge brings positive change to ROMS

K. Page, Producer

We live in a world where random kindness is scarce and violence seems to be waiting around every corner. Helping others has become more of  a chore and not something people enjoy. Yet, there are still groups looking to inflict positive change. One of these groups is Rachel’s Challenge and ROMS is joining the cause.

The goal of Rachel’s Challenge is to make schools safer, more connected places where bullying and violence are replaced with kindness and respect; and where learning and teaching are awakened to their fullest. And so far it has worked. According to RachelsChallenge.org, in the 19 years the organization has been operating, over 1.5 million people have become involved in Rachel’s Challenge programs, more than 1,200 schools and businesses are reached, and over 150 suicides are averted every year. Plus, bullying and violence has decreased and community service and acts of kindness have increased.

Why was Rachel’s Challenge created?

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered Columbine High School armed with guns and bombs, and opened fire. Their first victim was Rachel Joy Scott, a senior at Columbine. She was eating lunch outside with her friend, Richard Castaldo, when the perpetrators approached them. She was 17 years old when she died.

Throughout her life Scott kept journals where she wrote her thoughts and feelings. Here she expressed her philosophy and views of the world and the people around her. In an essay Rachel wrote for her English class, she famously stated, “I have this theory that if one person goes 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.” This soon became the motto for the organization started in her honor.

Red Oak Middle School has decided to get in on the action. Ever since our Hawk Time schedule has been put in place, students have the option to pick Rachel’s Challenge as the class to spend their Hawk Time in. Students who are in the class for the first time start off by watching a video about Rachel and learn about how she lived her life. The students who have already watched the video get to work on projects that help spread kindness around the school. Currently they are working on posters and other service projects in preparation for Kindness Day, on April 6th

Rachel’s Challenge Students working on a poster for Kindness Day at ROMS.
Students watching a video about Rachel Joy Scott during Hawk Time.

According to our school counselor, Ms. Barnes, Rachel’s Challenge has already had a positive impact on the school, despite only being in place for a short amount of time. She says that she has seen usually shy students blooming and becoming more involved in the activities around school. Larian Johnson says, “Rachel’s Challenge is an amazing addition to the school. It helps inflict change in students and teachers and also brings attention to those who need help.” Austin Kliewer says that he has seen the change Rachel’s Challenge has brought, too. “Ever since I took Rachel’s Challenge, people have been nicer to each other and opened up more.” He says he will definitely be taking Rachel’s Challenge again.

Originally Rachel’s Challenge wasn’t going to be a class you can take during Hawk Time. It was a club students could sign up for. But the counselors found it difficult to find any before or after school time. Now because it is a class any student can take the school is benefiting more from it. The class is also available at the ROMS Sixth Grade Center and some of the elementary schools.