Thursday, November 10, 2011

We Accept Rachel's Challenge!

17 year old Rachel Scott was the first person killed at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. We later learned that the 2 teenage killers specifically targeted her because of her Christian faith on their chilling, homemade videotapes. Rachel was having lunch with a friend outside when Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris approached with guns and fired several shots, wounding both. As her friend lay stunned and Rachel tried to crawl away, Harris lifted Rachel by her hair and asked, “Do you believe in God?” She answered, "You know I do." Harris said “Then go be with him” and shot her in the head. In the year before her murder she had grown more committed in her relationship with God. Like most teenagers, she struggled with things like sexual temptation and alcohol abuse. She was no perfect saint, but something had changed. She had become kinder to others, including those like Dylan and Eric, who were part of the “trench coat mafia” that hated Christ. Rachel counted the cost of her decision to follow Christ and suffered the deep pain of loneliness when her friends at Columbine turned away from her because of her faith. But she would not go back. In one of her journal entries, dated April 20, 1998 — exactly one year to the day before she died — she wrote: “I am not going to apologize for speaking the Name of Jesus, I am not going to justify my faith to them, and I am not going to hide the light that God has put into me. If I have to sacrifice everything … I will.” Rachel also wrote a school essay shortly before her death, entitled “My Ethics, My Codes of Life.” In it, she said, “It wasn’t until recently that I learned that the first and second and third impressions can be deceitful of what kind of person someone is … Let me ask you something … did you ever ask them what kind of past they came from, did they experience love, did they experience hurt, did you look into their soul and not just at their appearance? Until you know them and not just their ‘type,’ you have no right to shun them. 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's acts of kindness and compassion coupled with the contents of her six diaries left behind have become the foundation for one of the most life-changing school programs around called "Rachel's Challenge." The program attempts to engage students' heads, hearts and hands in projects to promote acceptance and caring toward each individual. We are SO lucky that our elementary school decided to accept "Rachel's Challenge" this year. For each act of kindness or compassion, the student writes it down on a slip of paper which is stapled into a link. All of the links are chained together and in our case, were long enough to wrap around our entire school. All of the Georgia schools that have participated in this program are bringing their chain links to the Georgia Dome tomorrow in Atlanta to link them all together and make one giant chain link that wraps around the Georgia Dome. It will be amazing and emotional! 11 Alive News will be broadcasting it live and the students at our school will be watching, but Mark and I made the decision to pull our kids out of school tomorrow and drive to Atlanta for the event. We lived in Colorado at the time of the Columbine shootings and this subject is near and dear to our hearts. So..if you live in Georgia, look for our family in the crowd tomorrow. And let me close with the principles of Rachel's Challenge which are great rules for all of us to live by: • Look for the best in others • Treat others as you want to be treated • Choose positive influences • Speak words of kindness • Forgive yourself and others


  1. Thank you for posting this Annie. I just finished dropping off the boys and sat in my car in my driveway to read this. Ended up sitting there for about 30 minutes reflecting on that horrible day and what you wrote about Rachel.. I woke up a little stressed today and Rachells words helped me change my perspective for the day!

  2. I am very happy you chose to take the family to the Georgia Dome for this event. It will set a great example and reinforce the benefits of the program. Thanks for writing about this challenge. We all need to adopt it.

  3. That is such a great thing you did with the kids today! I loved seeing the picture of the chains on instagram!