Pocahontas County Schools start chain reaction with Rachelﾒs Challenge
"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."
These words were uttered by a teen girl who inadvertently became the victim of bullying.
In 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, two of Scott's classmates, brought guns to Columbine High School and opened fire on the students who considered the boys to be outcasts. Both boys were bullied by classmates and, in return, became bullies by murdering 12 students and one teacher, and injuring 21 other students.
Rachel Scott was their first victim. A 17-year-old with the world ahead of her.
Inspired by her kindness and love for life, her family started Rachel's Challenge, a program that motivates students to change the way they treat each other and to end bullying, one student at a time.
Pocahontas County Superintendent of Schools C.C. Lester is hoping the Rachel's Challenge program will change the students of this county for the better.
"I think people have this misconception, if I go out there and beat the living daylights out of you, I'm a bully," he said. "That's not necessarily bullying. This talking about each other. That's the problem. I could black your eye, you won't forget it, but your eye will get better, but if I sit there and brow beat you, it will stick with you."
On April 24, all five schools will attend an hour-long seminar at Pocahontas County High School. After the program, a select group of middle and high school students will participate in a workshop to learn how to be team leaders at their respective schools. The students will also have the opportunity to begin an anti-bullying Rachel's Challenge club at their schools.
Following the day workshops, a community workshop will be held for parents and members of the community to raise awareness about bullying and how, as adults, our actions speak louder than words, too.
Lester said it's hard to expect students to stop bullying when there are "role models" in their lives that set the bullying example.
"I have a poster that says ﾑthey won't remember what you taught them, they'll remember how you treated them.' Think about that," he said. "In the 14 years you were in school, you had someone there that you will never forget because of the way they treated you. I can go back in my life and I had a biology teacher, I don't remember what she taught me, but I loved biology because of how she treated me."
For more information on Rachel's Challenge, visit www.rachelschallenge.org
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at sastewart@pocahontas times.com