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Kindness is Columbine victim's legacy

Speaker relays 'Rachel's Challenge' to Waynesboro school

Speaker relays 'Rachel's Challenge' to Waynesboro school

January 31, 2008|By ASHLEY HARTMAN

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Though Rachel Scott was the first victim of the Columbine High School shootings on April 20, 1999, her message and life of kindness and compassion live on through "Rachel's Challenge," a school training program that promotes Rachel's ideals.

A school assembly was held at Waynesboro Area Middle School Wednesday evening to ask members of the community if they would accept "Rachel's Challenge." Speaker Sarah Dornfeld, 24, asked the audience to get rid of prejudice, dare to dream, choose positive influences, perform small acts of kindness and tell people close to you that you love them.

These challenges represented the way Rachel lived her life. Rachel believed that if you look for the best in people, that would eliminate prejudice, Dornfeld said.

The second part of the challenge was to dare to dream by making goals and writing them down because that was what Rachel did. Some of her goals were to touch millions of people's hearts and to create a chain-reaction of kindness.

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In 2001, Rachel received the National Kindness Award. She believed small acts of kindness could have huge impacts.

"It wasn't anything big she did; it was the little things she did every day that had a huge impact," Dornfeld said.

Rachel was killed at age 17 by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in what was the worst school shooting in U.S. history. In the shooting, 12 students and one teacher were killed. After Rachel died, her father, Darrell Scott, and brother, Craig Scott, found Rachel's codes of ethics and six journals she had written.

"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 in the diaries. "People will never know how far a little kindness can go."

"She started a chain reaction of love and was kind to others," Craig said in a video shown during the assembly. "Because of that, she's changed the world."

Rachel believe a life committed to kindness could impact the world and start a chain reaction, Dornfeld said.

The third challenge came from the fact that Rachel chose positive influences in her life. While Harris and Klebold chose Hitler as one of their role models (the day Rachel died was Hitler's birthday), Rachel chose Anne Frank.

Frank and Rachel had many similarities, Dornfeld said. Both had premonitions that they would die young, both held high goals and both wanted to have lasting impacts on the world.

"Rachel always talked about how she was going to die young," Rachel's friend Nick Baumgart said in a video during the assembly. "She was at peace (with it)."

A few weeks before Rachel died, she was said to have written a poem predicting her own death and that it would be a homicide.

Angela Trace, of Quincy, Pa., her two daughters Maria Trace, 11 and Lizabeth Trace, 9, as well as Lindsay Snoke, 11, accepted the challenge.

"I thought it was very powerful," Angela Trace said. "There wasn't a dry eye in there."

"It could change millions of people," Lizabeth said.

"I think it totally had an impact on the world," Lindsay said.

Waynesboro Area Middle School Assistant Principle Kim Calimer said she hoped those who attended the program would take the message to heart.

"I hope that (the students) take away the message that the individual choices they make every day influence the lives of other people," Calimer said.

Darrell Scott and Rachel's stepmother, Sandy Scott, created "Rachel's Challenge" shortly after the Columbine shootings.

By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

Sarah Dornfeld speaks Wednesday night at Waynesboro Middle School about Columbine High School shooting victim Rachel Scott and her legacy, "Rachel's Challenge."

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