Rachel’s Challenge inspires students


Bailey Brammer, Editor-in-Chief

“Start a chain reaction of compassion and kindness.”

Rachel Joy Scott, the first girl who was shot in the Columbine High School shooting of 1999, lived by this idea. After her tragic death, Rachel’s parents started an organization known as Rachel’s Challenge, and have shared Rachel’s message of kindness with millions of people.

On Oct. 16, a Rachel’s Challenge assembly was presented to the OHS student body and to the community surrounding campus. Students, teachers and parents were presented with five challenges, and were encouraged to live them out in their daily lives.

Chris Mowery, Rachel’s Challenge representative, ran the assembly and shared how the story of Rachel has altered his perspective on life.

“She’s a hero and I named my daughter after her.” Mowery said. “It’s a story that changed my life and I am just unbelievably excited.”

Rachel’s message stemmed from essays and diary entries found by her parents after their daughter was killed. Rachel’s parents built an organization from the beliefs and thoughts of their daughter, based on sharing compassion with people who are often overlooked by society.

The assembly itself had an emotional effect on OHS students and staff alike.

“Just doing small things can turn into bigger things,” said Coltin Daus, sophomore. “Sometimes, in order for a good thing to happen, you have to endure the worst.”

After the assembly, students were invited to sign banners that read “I accept Rachel’s Challenge.” The signs will be hung in the gym as a reminder of Rachel’s message.

In addition to the assembly, 150 OHS students were selected for a training program in order to become members of OHS’s brand new Friends of Rachel (FOR) Club.

The idea for Rachel’s Challenge was brought to OHS by Marc Mur, Academic Advisor, and the club is being run by Katherine Huntington,language arts teacher.

“We really want this to be a community thing,” Mur said. “I started working on this last May. It really has to begin within each and every one of us: not just staff members, not just students, in all of us.”

Mur said the school has gone through some tragedies and that prompted him to explore ways to prevent student deaths.

“It starts with just me and you,” Mur said. “Even if we just start small, with our school, we need to try to do something.”

Previously, Huntington ran clubs at two other schools before she came to teach at OHS and she is excited about the passion of the students this year.

“There’s so much more enthusiasm here,” Huntington said. “ We want to be a kinder community, so I think it’s great.”

Huntington believes that the students’ excitement comes from the tragedies that OHS has had to deal with in recent years.

During the training, students were asked to come up with ideas about how to spread Rachel’s message throughout the campus and the community.

Ideas for a school-wide project ranged from handing out bags of candy as recognition for an act of kindness, to pinning complements to the backpacks of strangers.

Jasmine Welch, junior, believes that students at OHS need to focus on making each other happy and ridding themselves of prejudice.

“I think it’s really going to make an impact on students because everyone has been down lately,” Welch said. “We need to be kind and not discriminate.”

Plans for a future Friends of Rachel project are likely to be announced soon. However, the club is hosting a fundraiser at Federico’s on Oct. 22.

“Whatever we can do, we’re going to do it,” Huntington said. “We’re going to start that chain reaction of kindness and take it as far as we can.”