Scott, a 17-year-old junior, was the first student gunned down in
the horrific Columbine massacre in 1999, as she sat outside the
school entryway eating lunch with a friend.
Her younger brother, Craig, then 15, was a witness to the event.
As the tragedy played out, he found himself under a table in the
school library, where he witnessed the violent killings that
included two of his best friends. He personally believes that his
life was saved only because the shooters became distracted and
disoriented when the school sprinkler system went off as a result of
smoke in the building from all the gunfire and pipe bombs.
Soon after the Columbine incident, Rachel's father, Darrell
Scott, began doing public addresses regarding the shooting, its
aftermath and his daughter's life. He soon went on to create the
Rachel's Challenge Foundation, which has won national recognition as
a positive movement that encourages young and old alike to react to
situations with kindness and compassion.
The foundation has approximately 30 presenters, including
Rachel's father, her sister Dana, brother Scott and her good friend
Brandie Orozco, who was the presenter at Lincoln High School.
The presentation does a brief overview of the events of the
massacre but moves on quickly to focus on Rachel and her personal
code of ethics.
Six weeks before her death, Rachel wrote an essay entitled "My
Ethics, My Codes of Life" for one of her classes. This essay is the
foundation of Rachel's Challenge, as the words that she wrote
reflect what she as a young person wanted to be and wanted to help
In the essay she wrote: "My definition of compassion is
forgiving, loving, helping, leading and showing mercy for others. 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."
In the 45-minute presentation, Orozco talks about the acts of
kindness that Rachel performed and backs this up with video
testimonials from young people at Columbine High School who recount
incidents when Rachel helped them by just being a good friend.
The presentation also points out a
set of goals that will lead to a change in our social environment:
Look for the best
in others. Eliminate prejudice.
Dare to dream. Set
personal goals for life, write them down and keep a journal.
influences. Input determines output.
Kind words and
actions equal huge results.
Start a chain reaction.
At the end of a very emotional presentation, Orozco asked the
audience members to close their eyes and each concentrate on five or
so people who are important parts of their lives. She then
challenged them to make a point of contacting those people within
the next three days and telling them just how important they really
are. Finally, she asked the members of the audience to raise their
hands if they would accept the challenge. In an audience of
approximately 75, nearly every hand went up in response to her
Orozco had spoken at two all-school assemblies earlier in the day
and told the audience about "Friends of Rachel," the FOR Club, that
she had talked to the students about and the large response she got
from those students.
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After the presentation, LCHS Principal Joyce Hubbard said that
student government members were responsible for bringing Rachel's
Challenge to Lincoln and that LCHS students will have the option of
participating in the Friends of Rachel Club in a before-school
program to be led by faculty members Elizabeth Schneider and Gayal
Schneider said that after the student assemblies, Orozco hosted
what the foundation refers to as a "training" and that it was open
to all students who were interested in moving forward with Rachel's
Challenge and the FOR Club. She said that she and Rademaker were
very pleased to see that about 200 students chose to attend the
The FOR Club will start meeting next week and will have a
complete support program through the foundation, including a 35-week
curriculum, a series of webinars and a Rachel's Challenge full-time
coach who will assist the club directors in guiding the club in a
The first step for the club is to accept Rachel's Challenge. In
the lobby outside the auditorium a large banner was laid out for
anyone to sign, saying that they were going to accept the challenge
and work toward performing acts of kindness. The banner was filled
with signatures of students, and at the end of the evening many
adults in the audience also added their names.
Speaking directly to LDN, Orozco said that when the Rachel's
Challenge Foundation began, no one really understood how far it
would go. The foundation has met with nearly 1.5 million young
people in over 1,000 schools, and clubs are growing across America
She and the other presenters spend several weeks a year on the
road, meeting not only with students from elementary to college age,
but with businesses as well, again encouraging corporations and
their personnel to make positive changes in their work environment.
On a personal level Orozco said that there is a chain reaction of
its own going on when she makes these presentations. She explained:
"As I am trying to motivate young people, their response to this
program motivates me to keep going."
To learn more about the Rachel's Challenge Foundation, visit
The high school Web site will also include information about the
FOR Club and its activities as time progresses, and parents can
access that info by visiting
http://lchs.k12.il.us/ and looking for the Rachel's Challenge
[By NILA SMITH]