For eighth grader Anna Murphy, the story of Rachel Joy Scott shows what the saying “treat others as you would like to be treated” really means
“Instead of someone just telling you to do it, this is a real example,” Murphy said after “Rachel’s Challenge” at the middle school on Wednesday morning. The inspirational program challenges students to follow in the footsteps of Scott, the first of 13 students killed in the worst school shooting in U.S. history at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999.
Wednesday’s presentation was put on by Adam Northam, a childhood friend of Rachel’s younger brother, Craig. Northam was in eight grade at the time of the shooting, but Craig Scott was a freshman and survived the shooting from inside the library, where 10 students were killed. The massacre, which happened before some of the students in the audience were born, “changed the way schools take care of their students,” Northam said.
The “challenge” presentation is a combination of video clips from the day of the shooting and later interviews with Scott’s family members and even two bullies at Columbine who Scott befriended and now work with the organization that presents the program at school all over the work, stretching outside the United States to countries such as Ireland and Australia.
The “challenge” is a series of steps young people can take to make the world a better place, including choosing positive influences and speaking kindly about each other. All of the challenges are modeled on Rachel Scott’s life.
“Rachel was not a super hero,” Northam said. “She did not do anything you can not do.”
If students accept the challenge, “your school will be better than when you came in,” Northam told the students, who sat attentive throughout the presentation, raising their hands many times when Northam asked a question.
On Wednesday night at 7 p.m., a second program for parents and adults in the auditorium at . Northam told the students that the evening program is “for the people who you love.”
The program was arranged by Assistant Principal Kristy Reynolds.
“This is a great presentation to have before the last stretch of school,” Principal John Driscoll told the entire student body that was gathered in the school’s multi-purpose room, urging them to “think and reflect” about how they can all get along.
After the hour-long presentation, sixth grader Max Martin said that he learned how being kind to others can have a chain reaction that causes others to be nice to each other.
“All the challenges will make people think about how their actions affect others,” said Jack DeLorenzo, a sixth grader.