Several weeks ago there was an assembly at the Monomoy Middle School with a program entitled “Rachel’s Challenge”. It has been touring the country with a film and discussion telling the story of Rachel Joy Scott. Rachel attended Columbine High School and on April 20, 1999 she was the first student to be shot and killed in a massacre that resulted in the deaths of 12 students and one teacher, and injury to 24 others.
The program tells the story of this first of many recent school mass shootings. It recounts what happened on April 20 and talks about the kind of person Rachel was.
In her diary Rachel talked a lot about how she was inspired by Anne Frank and so her parents have set up a foundation to teach school children about the problems of prejudice, and the insidious ways that bullying happens in our schools and wider community.
After she shows the 50 minute film, the trainer who brings the film talks to school kids about Rachel’s Challenge. Rachel’s Challenge has 5 parts:
Look for the best in others.
Dream big. (Rachel has a premonition she might die young but she wanted to touch many lives.)
Choose to be positive every day by reaching out to people in need.
Speak kindly to people.
Start your own chain reaction of kindness.
The odd thing about this program here in our local schools was the timing. Scheduled months ahead, the program took place Feb. 16th, 2 days after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland FL. The plans had been set in motion months before. But when the program happened so close to the recent school shooting in Florida it hit faculty and students pretty hard.
It seemed too coincidental to be random. I don’t really believe that coincidences are just dumb luck. I had a friend who called them “God incidences”.
Rachel’s legacy and her parents determination to keep her challenge alive, and with it her memory, is yet another reminder that the strong boys and girls growing up in our country are our hope.
It is young people that have had the clearest vision of the way forward since the latest shooting in Parkland. If any good comes out of these terrible massacres in our schools, maybe we will begin to listen to these youth, really listen to them.
Forgiveness Class Changing it Up
March 7th: we will be showing the movie "The Power of Forgiveness”. First airs on Frontline on PBS, it is a powerful film featuring some of the greatest faith leaders of our time - Tich Nhat Hanh, Rev. James Forbes, Ellie Wiesel, Marianne Williamson and Desmond Tutu. It is a film you will want to see. We will try to start the film promptly at 5:30 p.m.
March 11 - Guest Preacher and Speaker. Please sign up to hear Rev. Susan Valiquette, modern missionary, chaplain and Director of the Inanda School for Girls. Sign up in the hallway for the lunch.