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DeSales students takes Rachel's Challenge

BY: Rikki Cason | December 08, 2012

It was one of the worst school shootings in United States history. It took the lives of 13, all of which will never be forgotten.

Working to make sure one of those victims at Columbine High School is never forgotten is the family and friends of Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim in the shooting.

Creating Rachel’s Challenge, the Scott family has turned Rachel’s positive outlook on life into a way to teach and inspire others to be kind and prejudice free. The program equips and inspires individuals to replace acts of violence, bullying and negativity with acts of respect and compassion.

This message has been spread through thousands of communities across the country and Thursday it was the students at DeSales Catholic School turn to learn it.

As members of the sixth- through eighth-grade classes began learning about Rachel, what happened that day 13 years ago — which occurred before most of the students were even born — and how her outlook on life helped so many, a somber look filled the students faces.

By the end of the program, many were brought to tears, taking in this important message.

Rachel’s Challenge representative Dave “challenged” the students to do five things. He asked students to look for the best in others and to eliminate prejudice; treat others the way they would want to be treated; choose positive influences; speak words of kindness, no cruelty; and forgive themselves and other people.

“The way you treat people today is how you’ll be remembered forever,” said Dave.

He encouraged the students to start a “chain reaction of kindness and compassion.” He spoke about the journals Rachel kept, and showed clips from her family, friends and people who by her kindness changed their lives in only the short time they knew her.

“It only took her two minutes to change a life,” said seventh-grade student Lauren Miller. “It was really impacting. What she did changed so many lives and she was only one girl.”

Seventh-grader Alex D’Anniballe agreed on the impact she had on the lives around her.

“She changed the life of Mark and Valarie from bullies to nice people,” he said. “It was really emotional.”

From the program, D’Anniballe learned, “even though you might not think it, even small things impact your life.”

DeSales Guidance Counselor Jennifer Cohen said the program was important so the student could hear Rachel’s message about kindness and compassion.

“The world can make a difference,” she said. “These messages are always good to hear.”

Rachel’s Challenge also featured many activities throughout the day for the entire student body. Kindergarten through fifth-grade students learned about kindness and compassion in an assembly. Seventh and eighth-grade students also went through training. The school also completed several service projects, including making ornaments to hang on a tree that will be donated to St. John’s Outreach and creating fleece blankets for Compass House and Lighthouse Shelter in Buffalo.

“It was important for them not only to hear this message, but see it in action by doing things for others,” said Cohen.

Parents and members of the community also got to take part in this important message. A special presentation took place Thursday night at the Palace Theatre, further explaining Rachel, her message and how parents and the community can also create a chain reaction and become positive, kind people.

Friday, students got the opportunity to also sign a banner accepting Rachel’s Challenge. This banner will be prominently displayed at DeSales throughout the school year.

“This program helped explain there are people in this world who are not nice,” said seventh-grader Megan Preisch. “You have to learn to live with it and stand up for yourself, your friends and the people around you.”

Rachel’s Challenge was provided to the community through Mullane Motors, Lockport Dental Group, Divita and Tracey, CPA and the faculty and staff of DeSales.

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