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Rachel’s Challenge coming to L-EMS

Posted: September 21, 2012 8:52 a.m.
Updated: September 21, 2012 9:00 a.m.

On April 20, 1999, one of the most horrific school shootings in U.S. history took place at Columbine High School in Jefferson County, Colorado.

The first victim of the attack was 17-year-old Rachel Scott. Following Rachel’s death, her father and stepmother, Darrell and Sandy Scott, began to hear from people who had been touched by her kindness.

"Rachel was my younger sister by five years. I was 22 and quit my job after Columbine. We had the opportunity to talk with a lot of people who had been affected by Rachel. We had no idea that it would end up creating this inspirational story," said Dana Scott, Rachel’s sister.

Darrell and Sandy Scott began Rachel’s Challenge shortly after her death.

According to Dana Scott, Rachel’s legacy along with her journal writings and her essay "My Ethics, My Codes of Life" served as the inspiration behind the program.

Rachel expresses her outlook on life in the essay which highlights having compassion for strangers and not being quick to pass judgement.

She writes, "Imagine you have just met someone...you reach judgement based on these three encounters. Let me ask you something ... did you ever ask them what their goal in life is ... did they experience love? ... You have to look for their beauty, their good ... Look hard enough and you will always find a light, and you can even help it grow."

"We’ve used that essay to be the foundation for what we talk to students about in school -- we share some stories about how Rachel went out of her way to reach out to people who didn’t have many friends," said Scott.

In fact, after Rachel’s death many came forward expressing how Rachel impacted them.

"That’s what they remembered about her, her compassion when other people didn’t care about them," said Dana Scott.

Rachel’s Challenge is brought to different schools across the country to encourage students to accept Rachel’s challenge for compassion.

"For a typical day, a presenter arrives at the school and has a one to two hour long assembly. They talk about Rachel and leave the students with five different challenges that come from her writings.

Students are encouraged to invite their siblings and parents back to the evening event," said Karissa McCoy, Rachel’s Challenge Communications Coordinator.

While the Columbine tragedy was the starting point for Rachel’s Challenge, Rachel’s sister Dana hopes that students do not dwell on the tragedy.

"Over all we want these students to walk away feeling empowered. It gives us a place where we can touch their heart to realize the relevance of being kind and compassionate to others," said Dana Scott.

L-EMS Resource Officer Rob Evans presented the idea for Rachel’s Challenge to Lugoff-Elgin Middle School’s Parent Teacher Organization during the 2011 school year.

This year, the PTO will be able to bring Rachel’s Challenge to L-EMS on Monday, Sept. 24.

There will be two presentations for L-EMS students during the school day and a 6:30 p.m. community event open to the public. LEMS students will attend presentations at 8 and 9:30 a.m.

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