The Edmond Sun


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. | 341-2121

Text Only
  • UCO forensic volunteer wants to aid more agencies

    A four-person group of forensic investigators who volunteer their time to help smaller Oklahoma police departments isn’t enough to meet demand, a member said.
    Kama King, who recently completed her graduate research and will be a member of the faculty at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Forensic Science Institute, said outside of full-time jobs, members of the group volunteer to assist these agencies.
    As her career progresses, King hopes to help establish a permanently funded organization available to any agency in the state to assist in remains recovery as well as related training.

    July 29, 2014

  • UCO announces Spring 2014 Honor Roll students

    The University of Central Oklahoma recently announced the students named to the university honor rolls, a distinction given to those who achieve the highest academic standards.
    For the spring 2014 semester, 1,073 students made the President’s Honor Roll, an honor achieved by those who recorded a “straight-A” or 4.0 GPA.

    July 28, 2014

  • 11.6.12 Mother and Cub (2).jpg UCO forensic researcher answers key question

    After working a few human recovery cases on a volunteer basis with a variety of police departments, a question kept bugging Kama King.
    “You spend the whole day,” the UCO W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute student said, “sometimes days, searching for someone and only find a skull or a few bones and it just ate at me. Are we not finding this or is it not there to be found?”

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • pm_Ramona Paul.jpg Keith, 5 others to receive service awards

    The 2014 Door-Opener Awards Gala dinner and silent auction Sept. 4, benefitting ASTEC Charter Schools, will recognize five outstanding Oklahomans and one Kansan for lifetime contributions made toward helping others in society maximize potential and achieve dreams.
    Those selected to receive a Door-Opener Award at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel event include Dr. Harvey Dean, Pittsburg, Kan.; Toby Keith and Tricia Covel, Norman; Former Gov. George P. Nigh, Edmond; the late Dr. Ramona Paul, Edmond; and Natalie Shirley, Oklahoma City.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • Edmond Youth Chorus auditions begin Monday

    The Fine Arts Institute of Edmond is seeking talented youth to try out for the upcoming season of the Edmond Youth Chorus.

    July 25, 2014

  • Rainbow Fleet introduces statewide child care line

    Oklahoma parents can now access a statewide program designed to provide resources and referrals for services across Oklahoma.

    July 25, 2014

  • Team Oklahoma Team Oklahoma brings home third place from NTAE

    Members of Team Oklahoma competing in the National Tournament of Academic Excellence placed third at the national competition held recently in Orlando.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Edmond School District’s change orders anticipated

    When building new schools and classrooms there may be additional costs, but when renovating older buildings those costs can more than double, according to a Edmond School District official.
    “When remodeling, you have unknown and hidden costs and you need to include in your budgeted funds for the built-in items you can not see,” said Bret Towne, Edmond’s associate superintendent of general administration.

    July 25, 2014

  • OC welcomes missionary, military families

    For the ninth consecutive year Oklahoma Christian University will host missionary and military families returning to the United States at Global Reunion 2014.
    The July 23-27 camp has doubled in size in the last two years with 150 participants from 43 countries on campus.
    The camp is for children who are known as Third Culture Kids (TCKs) though parents are allowed to attend sessions as well. Directors Kent and Nancy Hartman, missionaries-in-residence at OC, give tools and resources to families that have lived outside the United States and are now seeking to reenter U.S. culture. The Hartmans spent more than 10 years as missionaries in Australia and were surprised by the challenges of reintegrating their family into America.

    July 25, 2014

  • UCO DEBATE_submitted.jpg UCO debate team succeeds at nationals

    The University of Central Oklahoma’s debate team traveled to Bloomington, Ind., at the end of March to compete in the Cross Examination Debate Association’s National Championship Tournament (CEDANCT), bringing home several awards and finishing the year ranked no. 24 in the nation.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo