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James Buchanan High School's anti-bullying group and student council host Rachel's Challenge

It is a series of empowering programs based on the writings and life of the first person killed during the mass shootings at Columbine High School

February 27, 2013|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • James Buchanan High School students Carley Shaffer and Shaina Haas get ready to sign their names to the Rachel's Challenge pledge board hanging in the high school cafeteria on Wednesday.
By Roxann Miller, Staff Writer

MERCERSBURG, Pa. — On Nov. 27, 2012, Carley Shaffer heard the familiar sound of an incoming text on her cellphone.

Nonchalantly, the 14-year-old James Buchanan High School freshman picked up her phone thinking it was a routine message from her friend.

But, it was anything but routine.

“It was my friend telling me he didn’t see any reason for living,” Carley said.

“I was scared (that) if I didn’t do something about it, nobody would and I wasn’t going to see him the next day,” she remembered.

This story had a happy ending, but it prompted Carley to take action to try to prevent this from happening to other teens.

“I wanted to make a difference,” Carley said.

So, she spearheaded the formation of an anti-bullying group at James Buchanan High School to promote a positive, encouraging school environment.

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JBHS’ newly formed Anti-Bullying Committee, in conjunction with JBHS Student Council, hosted Rachel’s Challenge for the high school students Wednesday.

Rachel’s Challenge is a series of empowering programs based on the writings and life of 17-year-old Rachel Scott, who was the first person killed during the mass shootings at Columbine High School in 1999.

“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,” wrote Rachel in her diary found by her family after the shooting.

James Buchanan High School Assistant Principal Richard Burkett called Wednesday’s assembly an event.

“We’re kicking off a movement here. We have a good group of kids who have many of the same values and ideals that are articulated by the Rachel’s Challenge program. We’re looking to give them a vehicle which they can act and make this school a better place,” Burkett said.

Bullying isn’t a big problem at James Buchanan, but it’s something to pay attention to, he said.

“I think anytime you put 800 teenagers together there will be issues with pecking order, cliques — bullying. I don’t think that our bullying situation in this school is as worrisome as it is at other schools I’ve visited or been a part of. But it’s not something you ignore,” Burkett said.

Shaina Haas, a senior and president of student council, said the bullying that exists in the school is more of the emotional kind.

“It’s not like bullies are pushing you into the lockers. It’s more of kids saying, ‘You are a hick,’” she said. “We aren’t that strong on bullying, but we have small stuff.”

Next year, the anti-bullying group is expected to become a committee of student council, Shaina said.

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