Rachel’s Challenge at Saline High School: Start a Chain Reaction of Kindness
Saline High School students and their families were invited to attend a presentation by Rachel’s Challenge, an organization that encourages participants to start a chain reaction of kindness.
The program was founded by the family of Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim of the Columbine High School shootings that took place on April 20, 1999.
Musetta Deneen, assistant principal at SHS, helped organize the event.
“Today was an opportunity for the students to be exposed to the Rachel’s Challenge program, and our goal is to support students as they build community here at the high school, “ Deneen said. “ One of the things we’ve added as a building goal is to improve our community and school culture. We work a lot on that as a staff, and our staff is connecting with students.”
The school invited Crista Carnes, a Rachel’s Challenge representative, to come speak at a school assembly for the students, as well as an informational meeting for the parents and community. Carnes, who is a friend of the Scott family, told the story of Rachel while explaining the motivation for each challenge.
“A week after Rachel died, her family was going through her drawers and they found an essay that she wrote for her fifth-period class.,” Carnes said. “ She titled it ‘My Ethics, My Codes of Life'. In her essay she said ‘I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it would start a chain reaction of the same.’”
Carnes outlined the challenges that were inspired from Rachel’s journals. She encouraged participants to look for the best in others, dream big, choose positive influences, speak with kindness, and start a chain reaction.
“We think this is the missing piece to get students to connect with each other,” Assistant Principal Deneen said. “This program, this presentation kind of launched the work that we are doing. As we move forward throughout the year, we’re going to take opportunities each day for students to connect with each other and learn about one another, to build empathy and really start those kindness initiatives. As Rachel put it, a chain reaction.”
Carnes noted that to date, over 30 million people have heard Rachel’s story and been inspired to take up the challenge.
“This is student-led, student power. If you hear kids talking about the FOR Club, it stands for Friends of Rachel Club. These clubs are all around the world, and they are connected through social media. They are basically trying to create that culture of kindness in this world by taking small acts of kindness and doing them,” Carnes said. “Support them and encourage them in that.”
Assistant Principal James Rafko said that the SHS staff will be doing just that in the year ahead.
“This initiative is based on who Rachel was as a person, incredibly kind and accepting of everybody regardless of what they looked like or any kind of attribute about them. We will be giving four essential challenges to our students throughout the school year so that we can improve our school culture and just be more kind here at Saline High School,” Rafko said.
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