Gloversville students and a number of adults had the privilege of hearing Rachel's Challenge at the middle school Tuesday.
Rachel Joy Scott was the first student killed during the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, and her positive writings and her spirit have lived on in this program. Her attitude is summed up in something she said in one of her essays: "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."
By their individual actions and by organizing a Friends of Rachel Club, students will have the opportunity to flesh out this idea in their everyday lives.
Rachel's Challenge has five key points:
Eliminate prejudice by looking for the best in others.
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Choose positive influences in your life.
Speak with words of kindness, not cruelty.
Forgive yourself and others.
Rachel's Challenge is a reminder of the attitudes and actions that require daily self-examination and practice.
Local students are fortunate to experience the Rachel's Challenge program. Some youths aren't hearing positive messages at home. The behavior emphasized by the program can help steer youths in the right direction.
The challenge's website cites some of the good the challenge has accomplished. One elementary school in Texas had 90 percent fewer disciplinary problems. An Illinois high school experienced 84 percent fewer out-of-school suspensions. Seventy-eight percent more students said they would intervene in bullying situations. More than 18 million people have been touched by Rachel's message, and 2 million more are added each year.
Rachel's murder could have been the cause of hatred and bitterness, but ironically, it was Rachel's father who launched this compelling program. No doubt, Rachel would be very happy about that.
We hope more local schools present Rachel's Challenge. It offers valuable lessons on life.