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'Rachel's Challenge' will be issued to Waynesboro students

Program honoring Columbine victim promotes compassion

Program honoring Columbine victim promotes compassion

January 25, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Rachel Scott was a 17-year-old girl who once wrote in a school essay that "compassion is the greatest form of love humans have to offer."

But it was without compassion that on April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered Columbine High School in Colorado and gunned down classmates.

The first fatality was Rachel Scott.

On Jan. 30 and 31, in tribute to Rachel, her sister will speak to Waynesboro's sixth- through 12th-graders to issue "Rachel's Challenge." The program asks youths to pledge to eliminate prejudice, dare to dream, choose their influences, use kind words and start a chain reaction.

"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," Rachel wrote. "People will never know how far a little kindness can go."

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The speaker and school district have opened a Wednesday night presentation to the community, extending special invitations to parents of the district's secondary students.

"It takes a group effort to have very positive influences," said Rita Sterner-Hine, principal of Hooverville Elementary School. "The idea is to challenge the students and parents to teach that extra step to make sure people feel included."

Superintendent Barry Dallara recently told the school board that "we worked really hard for two months or longer ... to have the assembly come to us."

"It came very highly recommended to our superintendent," said Sterner-Hine, whose children are enrolled in Waynesboro schools.

She said the schools are not planning to discuss the Columbine tragedy in detail, but rather are asking parents to address the matter with their children before the assemblies.

Assistant Superintendent Gloria Walker said the program will reinforce the Character Counts! program under way in district schools. Character Counts! teaches the "six pillars of character," which are trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

"It's part of our Character Counts! to show children they have a responsibility to keep not only themselves, but others safe," Walker said.

A goal of issuing Rachel's Challenge locally will be to show "how violence can affect all people," she said.

Rachel's family, on www.rachelschallenge.com, describes her as fun, goofy, dramatic and as someone who shined.

They say she had traced her hands on an old piece of furniture and wrote:

"These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will some day touch millions of people's hearts."




If you go



What: Rachel's Challenge, a program promoting compassion through the story of the first victim at Columbine High School

When: Wednesday, Jan. 30, 7 p.m.

Where: Waynesboro Area Middle School, 702 E. Second St., Waynesboro, Pa.

For information, call 717-762-1191 or go to www.rachelschallenge.com

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