On Tuesday December 9, Wilton High was visited by the national, non-profit organization Rachel’s Challenge, a program dedicated to creating safe school environments and utilizing the inner kindness we all possess.
Staff, students and administration gathered in the fieldhouse for an hour-long commemoration of a 17-year-old junior at Columbine High School named Rachel Joy Scott, one of the first victims in the 1999 Columbine massacre.
Rachel’s Challenge was created by Rachel’s father and stepmother after they discovered her personal journal and drawings after her death. Rachel was a passionate teenage girl adamant that one day she would change the world. In an essay she wrote shortly before her death, Rachel outlined 5 challenges that she wanted people to embark on to become better people and improve their environments: Look for the best in others. Dream big. Choose positive influences. Speak with kindness. Start your own chain reaction.
The presentation was emotionally moving, as it touched upon the subject of the Columbine massacre, the worst school shooting in United States history. 13 students and staff were killed by two of their own students. Rachel Joy Scott was among one of the first homicide victims.
Rachel is described as defending others valiantly, and believing that everyone deserved chances in life. The presentation highlighted the benefits of kindness, and all it could do for someone. Rachel’s challenges were designed to persuade people to be considerate and compassionate.
In Rachel’s personal journal, she states, “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.”
At the end of the presentation, the audience was asked if they would accept Rachel’s 5 challenges. If they were to accept, then they were urged to sign the banner that hung in the cafeteria. Placed by the entrance of the cafeteria, the banner states that “I will accept Rachel’s Challenge.”
Immediately after, the poster was covered. The surface was dotted in signatures from the students and staff alike during all lunch waves.
During periods 6,7 and 8, the FOR (Friends of Rachel) Club met. Students convened to speak about the presentation and the challenges that were bestowed to them. From several students asked, the meeting for the FOR Club was in-depth. Monday, the 15th, another FOR meeting occurred at the school.
The club, which has kicked off at our school has now embarked upon the task of “changing” our school environment.Before Midterms, members spent over four hours after school putting post-it notes on every single locker in the school. Each post-it contained an encouraging message that meant to lift students spirits, and provide a push for the long week ahead.
The presentation was expressive, forcing us to reflect on our actions and our ability enjoy our lives when others before us didn’t. It taught us to be kind to one another, because the simplest of acts make a difference in someone’s life..