Starting a Chain Reaction

By Annie O’Halloran, Staff Writer

Labeled “the worst high school shooting in US history,” the Columbine Shooting shocked the American public. On this tragic day, high school students, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris assaulted Columbine High School and its students with bombs, knives, and guns on April 20, 1999 (the 110th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s birthday). They killed twelve students and one teacher and, at the end of the shooting, committed suicide in the school’s cafeteria. Rachel Scott, a bright and inspirational student, was the first victim in the shooting. Although Rachel died, her legacy remains today through Rachel’s Challenge, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating safe, compassionate school environments.
Rachel Scott, the inspiration for Rachel’s Challenge, knew she wanted to make an impact on the world and started with her community, being friendly to everyone and reaching out to others.When she was thirteen, she traced her hands on her bedroom wall with the quote “These are the hands of Rachel Joy Scott and one day, will touch millions of people’s hearts.” She has been compared to World War II inspirational figure, Anne Frank, who left diaries of her life during the Holocaust. Alyssa Lopes, a junior, said, “I thought it was interesting how she clearly knew she was going to die young,” after learning that Rachel Scott felt prior to the shooting that she was going to die soon.
Although many students enjoyed the assembly, some also stated that at some points the assembly was too exaggerated. A few controversial topics included the comparison to Anne Frank and the similarity between the drawing by Rachel on the day she died and the stranger’s dream. Some students found the comparison “too stretched” and the dream and drawing “creepy” and “not completely believable.” Although not all students made a connection during the assembly, many say it was emotional, memorable, and uplifting.
Rachel’s Challenge is based on Rachel Scott’s beliefs, found in her many diaries and essay, “My Ethics, My Codes of Life.” In this essay, Rachel challenges the reader to find the best in people and start a chain reaction of compassion and kindness. Rachel’s challenge has taken these beliefs and constructed them into five challenges:
1. Look for the Best in Others
2. Dream Big
3. Choose Positive Influences
4. Speak with Kindness
5. Start your own chain reaction
Although sad, the assembly turned around and focused on how students can make a difference in their school, home, and other areas in life by accepting others and acting on kindness and compassion, not hate and violence. Liz Scalora, a junior, says, “It really made me think about the last thing I said to everyone and to think what if something bad happened.” Katelyn Leong liked the assembly because “it gave more information on school shootings and makes us more grateful.”
To represent the Rachel’s Challenge in Governor Livingston, paper chains have been hung all around the main highway to write kind acts on and students signed a banner pledging to follow Rachel’s five challenges. Governor Livingston challenges you to sign the banner and follow Rachel’s Challenge, or to just start a chain reaction on your own, and make this school and the world a better, more compassionate place.

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