- Family Features
- Business Directory
- Gallery Of Homes
- Subscribe Now!
- Place A Classified Ad
- New! Digital e-Edition
LSSD to hold year two of Rachel’s Challenge
Oct 30, 2012 4:50 pm
Rachel Joy Scott was the first person killed at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. Her acts of kindness and compassion coupled with the contents of her six diaries have become the foundation for Rachel’s Challenge, which educators have described as one of the most life-changing school programs in America. In February 2012, Lebanon Special School District hosted its first Rachel’s Challenge event. Now, the LSSD is once again taking up the challenge.
Monday, Nov. 5 and Tuesday, Nov. 6, the LSSD will host year two of Rachel’s Challenge. Fifth through eighth grade LSSD students will attend age-appropriate presentations regarding Rachel and her life story. These assemblies are designed to create the desire for positive change.
“This year, our fifth grade students will be included in Rachel’s Challenge. Elementary principals have asked us how their students can get involved too. After the fifth graders view the presentation, they will go back to their schools and start their own Kindness and Compassion (KC) Club. We hope every fifth
grader will join the club, then lead their whole school to think about change and how they can commit targeted acts of kindness,” said Beth Petty, LSSD Family Resource Center Coordinator.
Petty added that in the elementary program, the focus will not be on the events of Columbine High School or Rachel’s death; in fact they are not even mentioned. Instead the program is based on Rachel’s life and her belief that small, deliberate acts of kindness could have a profound and lasting effect on those around us. Fifth grade KC Club meetings are driven by lessons on the following topics: influence, goal setting, journaling, acceptance and kindness.
Experts report that each day 160,000 students do not go to school because they are bullied, teased and harassed. By turning the story of a tragic death at Columbine High School into a mission for change, Rachel's Challenge is helping create safer learning environments and making a worldwide impact.
Through her death, her family learned that Rachel left a legacy of reaching out to those who were different, who were picked on by others, or who were new at her school. Shortly before her death Scott wrote, "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."
As a result of the presentation last year, hundreds of LSSD Middle School students joined the Friends of Rachel (FOR) Club and have been leading their classmates and teachers to commit targeted acts of kindness that they have documented by over 1600 paper chains linked together to start their own chain reaction of kindness.
"The LSSD accepts Rachel’s Challenge and is committed to promoting kindness and compassion so our schools remain safe places to learn and live. Our goal for the end of year two is that we will host a community event celebrating our acts of kindness and compassion, and join all our chains together creating a 'Chain Reaction of Kindness and Compassion', Petty added. "We have already seen that Rachel’s Challenge has sparked a change in how students treat each other. They are showing more acts of kindness
and compassion towards each other. Rachel especially wanted to make sure new students, special needs students and isolated students were reached out to."
Through her writings, her family has based Rachel’s Challenge on five things that she believed:
1. Look for the best in others – eliminate prejudice
2. Dream big – set goals – keep a journal
3. Choose positive influences
4. Small acts of kindness reap huge results
5. Start a chain reaction of kindness
“We don’t want to stop at the school level,” says Linda Schenk, Wilson County Rachel’s Challenge Coordinator. “We need the help of our community as we celebrate a year filled with kindness and compassion.”
Nov. 6, the LSSD will host the Rachel’s Challenge Parent and Community Event at Winfree Bryant.
“Last year, over 250 people attended this event. When we hosted the kick off rally at the Fair, almost 150 people attended. We were thrilled with our attendance, but we want more. For a chain reaction to really work, we need parents and the community to buy in. We wish every parent of fifth through eighth grade LSSD students would attend the event with their child. We wish every pastor and youth minister would come and bring their youth groups," Petty said. "We wish every leader of every organization in Lebanon would attend and take Rachel’s beliefs back to the workplace. Wilson County is already the most amazing place to live and work, but we could make it even better, and a program like this could be a positive catalyst for change.” said Petty
She noted that funding for this year’s program came easily.
“After hosting last year, the buy in was already there. Lebanon Police Chief Scott Bowen was the first to say he wanted to be involved. The LPD is funding more than one half of the cost of the program. In addition, Officer PJ Hardy is meeting monthly with the Rachel’s Challenge FOR Clubs at both Winfree Bryant and Walter J. Baird. The remainder of the funding came from within LSSD itself through Coordinated School Health, Special Ed, School Aged Child Care and the Family Resource Center. We have seen the impact this program has on our schools and are
committed to keeping the chain reaction going,” said Petty.
According to Petty, when LSSD middle school students were surveyed, 46 percent reported feeling more safe at school. 30 percent said they have missed less days of school. 55 percent said they see less students getting bullied. 61 percent reported seeing more acts of kindness, and 92 percent said the schools need a yearly Rachel’s Challenge event. 46 percent of students said they have joined the FOR Club.
“When we see this kind of enthusiasm from middle school students, we know this is a program that we must continue,” she said.
Walter J. Baird will host two student assemblies on Monday, Nov. 5 at 8:30 and 9:45 a.m. Their FOR Club meeting will be at 1 p.m. Winfree Bryant will host their student assembly on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 8:30 a.m. Their FOR Club meeting will also be at 1 p.m. Fifth graders will be bussed to Winfree Bryant for their student assembly at 9:45 a.m. on Nov. 6. Their KC Club meetings will be held at their own elementary schools and the dates and times have yet to be determined.
The Parent and Community Event is at 7 p.m. Nov. 6 at Winfree Bryant. The program will last approximately one hour. Petty said that RSVPs are not necessary. All of Wilson County is invited to attend. Like last year, a Kindle Fire will be given away at the end of the event.
For more information about programs, clubs and more, visit rachelschallenge.org.