The Edmond Sun

Education

August 28, 2012

Rachel's Challenge asks students to 'Start a chain reaction'

Parent meeting set for Aug. 29 at Santa Fe High School

EDMOND — More than 1,200 Edmond middle school students listened attentively in two separate assemblies as they learned about the writings and life of a young girl who was the first student killed at Columbine High School in 1999.

Rachel’s Challenge is a series of student empowering programs and strategies that equip students and adults to combat bullying and allay feelings of isolation and despair by creating a culture of kindness and compassion. The programs are based on the writings and life of 17-year-old Rachel Joy Scott.

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 Rachel 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.”

The day I met Rachel

The arts, drama and journaling were all things Rachel enjoyed and excelled in, and it was through her journals after her death that her family learned more about their loved one, said her sister Dana Scott.

Even though Rachel’s legacy has changed millions of people’s lives, Dana Scott wrote, “I can tell you she was a normal teenager who loved life and experienced the same struggles as every other teenager. She made mistakes like everybody else, but somehow, most of the time, found a way to see through her frustrations to see a bigger purpose.”

Among her writings Rachel developed a Code for Living for elementary students, middle schoolers and high school students.

Her Code for Middle School Students includes five points.

1. Look for the best in others. When meeting someone for the first, second or third time she asked, “Did you look in their soul? If you look hard enough you can find a light and you can help it grow. Look for the best in others and you can find it.”

2. Treat others the way you want to be treated. “People tend to respond to the way they are treated,” Rachel wrote. “One must start a chain reaction of kindness.”  

3. Choose positive influences. “Choices we make today determine who we will become tomorrow,” Rachel wrote.

Rachel journaled, “I write for the sake of my soul,” and she had two mentors she looked up to and echoed some of their thoughts and beliefs.

One mentor was Anne Frank, who journaled while her family was in hiding during World War II.

The other was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., from whom she borrowed Chain Reaction from a book of the same title when he said, “The chain reaction of evil must be broken.”

One of the school’s bullies said of Rachel after her death, “Rachel was tougher than I was. She made me want to be a better person.”

Austin, a local D.J. whom Rachel had helped one cold, snowy evening, said that night, when she stopped to help him, held her umbrella and flash light and talked to him while he changed his flat tire impacted him for the rest of his life.

He told his friends later an angel had come and helped him, and that night more than 13 years ago he decided to take up the torch of kindness and pass it on to others. When Austin and his wife had their first child, a daughter, they named her Rachel.

4. Speak words of kindness. Speak with kindness, not cruelty, using words that heal, Rachel wrote. “You can start a chain reaction.”

A former teacher said Rachel was never afraid of being her own person. She had a deep, thoughtful side. “I never heard Rachel say anything mean about anyone.”

5. Forgive yourself and others. Forgiving yourself is important for picking up the pieces and moving on, Rachel wrote. “Forgiveness makes you free. Forgive yourself and others. Infuse kindness and compassion.”

After the assembly at Sequoyah Middle School on Monday, eighth-grader Sam Blankenship said, “I cried. Rachel was a great person, and I know that my nephew who is bi-polar just needs more understanding.”

Eighth-grader Colton James said, “The assembly was really deep, and it was something special. I am going to work on my relationships with my family and friends.”

Principal Jason Galloway said, “We want a sustainable and positive impact in the school’s climate. We would like to practice ‘random acts of kindness’ and see how the overall climate improves in our school as well as impacts the community.”

As Rachel journaled, “I will not be average,” she wrote, “dream big and believe in yourself, be kind to others, show appreciation to those you love and be the answer.”

Her father, Darrell, wrote, “... it is important for people to know that hope can come out of challenge and adversity.

“There are many circumstances in this world over which we have no control. Rachel’s Challenge is something we can all do — help change the world by starting a chain reaction of kindness. It’s free, it’s easy and it’s empowering to realize that one person can make a difference.”

The presenter Kristi Krings said the thing that gets her through the emotional assembly is that she gets to see the good that comes out of the process.

“I see not the tragedy, but the triumph that comes from what happened,” Krings said.

Following the assembly, students were given the chance to sign a banner stating, “I accept Rachel’s challenge,” and to sign up to be part of the Friends of Rachel Club training, a core group of 100 students who will be role models for other students to emulate as they inspire, equip and empower other students by helping create a positive culture change in their school by starting a chain reaction of kindness and compassion.

pmiller@edmondsun.com | 341-2121

1
Text Only
Education
  • north 1.jpg U.S. News ranks city high schools in state’s Top 10

    All three Edmond high schools are ranked among the Top 10 in the state in a prestigious national list.
    U.S. News & World Report, which publishes annual rankings, ranked Edmond North No. 3 in Oklahoma and No. 437 nationwide. Memorial ranked No. 6 in Oklahoma and No. 847 nationwide. Santa Fe ranked No. 8 in Oklahoma and No. 1,075 nationwide.
    “This recognition serves as validation for our students, parents and staff members at all levels who work together relentlessly in pursuit of academic excellence, Edmond Public Schools Superintendent David Goin said.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • OC expands to 5 academic colleges

    Oklahoma Christian University will expand from three to five colleges beginning with the 2014-15 academic year.
    OC’s five academic colleges will be the College of Biblical Studies, the College of Business Administration, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Natural and Health Sciences.
    “Our academic and leadership teams have been planning, praying and discussing how to build on OC’s legacy of exceptional success in science, engineering and business,” said Scott LaMascus, vice president for academic affairs. “Our new colleges will focus on growth in these areas and implement strategic planning to help us serve more students.”

    April 23, 2014

  • Ekso 1.jpg Deer Creek students see bionic suit in action

    In 2010, a car accident left Guthrie resident Mary Beth Davis paralyzed from the waist down.
    In a few weeks, thanks to INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation, determination and an Ekso Bionics suit, she will be walking across a stage to receive a college diploma from Oklahoma State University.
    Wednesday afternoon, Davis was at Deer Creek Middle School where students of teacher Jamie Brehm got to see Davis and the suit in action and learn about how it helps people live a fuller life.
    Brehm said the opportunity to have the demonstration fit perfectly with the testing schedule. Brehm said a bonus was having Davis with her inspirational story come to the school. In addition to graduating soon, Davis lives an independent life and she was recently crowned Ms. Wheelchair Oklahoma.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Be on the lookout for termites

    Warming temperatures and spring rainfall means swarming conditions for the homeowners’ nemesis in Oklahoma — the termite.
    Termites are Mother Nature’s way of recycling dead wood, as well as aerating the soil and increasing its fertility and water percolation. They are an important food source for other insects, spiders, reptiles, amphibians and birds within the food web, and they are essential for the wellbeing of the environment.

    April 23, 2014

  • earth day 7.jpg Central community learns about water conservation

    Edmond residents know about rain that falls from their roofs after a storm. Some may not know what kind of important role it plays in the nation’s water supply.
    Tim Tillman, the University of Central Oklahoma’s sustainability coordinator, said UCO has a tradition of innovation in sustainable practices. Tillman said Earth Day, first brought to the campus more than 20 years ago, began that tradition.
    During Tuesday’s Earth Day Fair, Jason Summers, a Coca-Cola account manager for on-premise sales, was giving away rain barrels and educating members of the Central Oklahoma community about the benefits of rain barrels.

    April 22, 2014 3 Photos

  • Accountability push for public schools now in question

    One by one, K-12 education reforms passed in previous years by Oklahoma lawmakers are being targeted for weakening or repeal.
    Among them: Common Core State Standards, the Reading Sufficiency Act, A-F school grades for districts, and middle-school end-of-instruction exams for history and social studies. These could all be scaled back or revoked by various legislative bills that have passed in both the House and Senate.

    April 22, 2014

  • State suspends student testing over glitches

    Computer glitches forced state education officials to suspend online testing Monday, affecting student testing in Edmond and Deer Creek.
    State Superintendent Janet Barresi said as a result of online testing disruptions for students in grades 6-8 and high school end-of-instruction (EOIs) exams she directed testing vendor CTB/McGraw Hill to suspend online testing for the day.
    “We certainly share in the frustration that students and school districts feel,” Barresi said. “It is of paramount importance that CTB finds the nature of the problem and resolves it as quickly as possible.”

    April 21, 2014

  • Guthrie board calls for Common Core repeal

    A resolution recently passed by the Guthrie school board calling for the repeal of Common Core standards has attracted the attention and support of several state legislators.
    State Reps. Lee Denney, R-Cushing, Dale DeWitt, R-Braman, Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, and state Sen. AJ Griffin, R-Guthrie, praised the school board for weighing in on the Oklahoma Legislature’s pending action to repeal state-issued Common Core standards.

    April 21, 2014

  • Touch-A-Truck event draws families to UCO

    Edmond Electric and Edmond Vehicle Maintenance are co-hosting the Edmond Touch-A-Truck from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 17 in the UCO parking lot off Second Street. Touch-A-Truck is a fundraising event that provides children of all ages with the opportunity to experience life-size vehicles and interact with community support leaders like police officers, firemen, construction workers and many more. Families will have the opportunity for a hands-on exploration of many vehicles such as Edmond’s own fire trucks and police cars, an Edmond Electric bucket truck and even a solid waste truck.
    Admission for the Touch-A-Truck event is a suggested $2 donation with the proceeds going to the Edmond HOPE Center. For more information, contact Edmond Electric at 216-7671 or email michelle.gumaer@edmondok.com.

    April 21, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 19, 2014