NEWS

Uncle of slain Columbine student speaks at McDonald County High School

Todd G. Higdon

Larry Scott, the uncle of Rachel Scott, a Columbine High School student who was the first student killed in the horrific April 20, 1999, shooting, spoke to a sizeable audience comprising of parents and children Monday night at McDonald County High School.

The program focused on five challenges: Look for the best in others (eliminate predujuice), dare to dream (write down goals and keep a journal), choose positive influences (input, determination and output), kind words (little acts of kindness, huge results), and start a chain reaction.

“The five challenges is what we stress during the program,” Larry said. “Basically, it is about kindness and compassion. We want to see a difference, a change made in these schools and in these kids’ lives. We want to come in and change, make a difference in changing the climate for that day and that week. We also want to make a difference in changing the culture.”

Mixed with a powerful video/audio footage of Rachel’s life, and the Columbine tragedy holds students and parents spell-bound during the one-hour presentation.

According to the Rachel’s Challenge Web site www.rachelschallenge.com, “…that motivates them to positive change in the way they treat others…the assembly creates the ‘want to’ or desire for positive change.”

McDonald County High School students were given the opportunity to hear the program Monday morning, while the parents and the public was given the program that night.

This session is similar to the assembly program and ends with a specific challenge to parents and community leaders, showing them how they can reinforce the decisions their youth are making.

Rachel’s acts of kindness and compassion, coupled with the contents of her six diaries have become the foundation for the most life-changing school program in America.

“She was like a daughter to me,” Larry told the audience.

Shortly after Rachel was killed by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the two went into the school library. That is where Craig Scott, Rachel’s brother and others were. On the video, Craig told how two of his friends were shot to death. Craig narrowly escaped death himself.

History of Rachel’s Challenge

A few weeks after the tragedy, Darrell Scott, Rachel’s father, spoke to the House Judiciary Committee regarding issues of school violence. His speech has become one of the most widely read on the Internet. Shortly afterwards, he founded “Rachel’s Challenge,” a non-violence school program. Since its beginning and through 2005, more than 400,000 students have heard the presentation. In 2006, more than 475,000 students will have experienced Rachel’s Challenge and had the opportunity to accept the challenges, modeled after Rachel’s life and writings.

The team is comprises of 35 members who travel around the United States giving the presentation. Larry has traveled to 48 schools so far, and will speak at 120 schools this year. This year, the team will see 100,000 students a week and travel to 992 schools.

“It is hopefully making a difference in schools,” said Larry.

Coping

“It was a huge loss to lose Rachel of course, we would rather have her back, and not have to do it (presentation),” Larry said. “But we felt compelled to do this.”

One of the audience members was Jon Farmer.

 “It was a very good presentation, very moving,” said Farmer. “My kids came home today and had seen the presentation. It was moving to them.”

Farmer’s son, 17-year-old Ike Wortman, heard the students presentation and came back to the Monday night presentation.

“The programs were pretty much the same, but tonight he talked a little more about the killers.” Wortman said.

Wortman said Rachel’s compassion stood out.

“She did not really care what other people thought, she just did everything to make everyone else happy,” said Wortman.

 “I remember how scary that the whole thing was (the shootings at Columbine), that something like that could happen,” Farmer said.

At the conclusion of each of the programs, the audience were asked if they would take Rachel’s Challenge. Both Farmer and his son, Wortman, did.

Larry will be speaking in Webb City High School at 7 p.m. tonight. The event is free and open to the public.

If you wish to contact Rachel's Challenge about scheduling an event, please call 877-895-7060.

Neosho Daily News