Sparta Middle School will welcome a representative of Rachel's Challenge, a national initiative inspired by Rachel Scott, the first student to die in the Columbine school shootings of April 20, 1999. Larry Scott, Rachel's uncle, who took the challenge to students in Avon, Ct., last month, said the teen was keenly sensitive to the suffering of others.
"She said people never know how far a little kindness can go," Scott said of his niece. "She was just an unusual 17-year-old girl that believed in making a difference in the world in a positive way.
Darrell Scott, Rachel's father, created the challenge so that her compassionate perspective on life could make a difference to others. The effort boils down to five challenging steps.
"She didn't know the five challenges personally, but she lived [them]," Larry Scott told Patch.
At the middle school on Tuesday, students will be asked to commit to these five steps:
- Look for the best in others
- Dream big
- Choose positive influences
- Speak with kindness
- Start your own chain reaction of kindness.
The five challenges were derived from Rachel's own story, from her friends' testimony and from her personal writing.
"Rachel's challenge has made a huge difference wherever we go," Larry Scott said. "We start kindness clubs all over America in schools. We have five or six thousand right now in America. Last year we did 2,300 schools just in America and we were in 10 other countries besides the United States. Over two-and-a-half million students heard her story last year alone and that's every year now."
Rachel Scott often told friends she was going to die young and make a lasting impact on the world. Both of those came to pass for the 17-year-old who died 14 years ago along with many of her classmates. But out of the tragedy, she has already reached millions through Rachel's Challenge, preventing several suicides.
"She had a lot of wisdom for a 17 year old and did a lot of amazing things for a 17 year old. It's beyond her years," Larry Scott said.
Anne Frank was a big influence on Rachel Scott. The Columbine tragedy happened on Adolf Hitler's birthday, a date specifically chosen by the killers and a date that ironically connects Scott and Frank, as pointed out in the presentation. The diaries of both girls have touched many people.
In many of Rachel's writings, the prevailing message was to be kind to others, from diary entries and a school essay on her code of ethics to two hands she drew on her desk along with the words, "These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will someday touch millions of people's hands."
More information on Rachel's Challenge is available on the program website, www.rachelschallenge.org.