Students challenged to start a chain reaction of kindness

Junior Haoyu Wang signs a pledge to promote kindness following the assembly. Students who wanted to make a commitment to Rachel’s Challenge signed the banner which now hangs in the school.

Junior Haoyu Wang signs a pledge to promote kindness following the assembly. Students who wanted to make a commitment to Rachel’s Challenge signed the banner which now hangs in the school.

Bailey Southard, Staff Writer

Students learned about Rachel Scott, the first victim of the Columbine High School shooting, Tuesday, Oct. 27. Although the school shooting took place over sixteen years ago in Colorado, the memory and life of Scott lives on through a program created by her father.

Learning about Scott and the school shooting was new for many students since they were not even born when the events took place. The shooting spree occurred on April 20, 1999, two of the school’s students were the gunmen. The shooters, Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, originally planned to only set off two bombs in the cafeteria. However, when the bombs failed to go off, they went into the school and started shooting. Most of the victims were gunned down in the library. Twelve students and one teacher were killed and more than 20 were injured before the two gunmen killed themselves.

This school shooting became the worst high school shooting in the country’s history and prompted a national debate on gun control and changed the way that schools keep their students safe.

A month before her death, Scott wrote an essay called “Code of Ethics.” In it she discussed how people should work on spreading kindness throughout the world so that there will be less hate and bullying. After finding it, Scott’s father decided to begin Rachel’s Challenge, a program to encourage people to spread kindness and prevent bullying as well as teen suicide.

Meichelle Gibson spoke to the student body about Rachel and Rachel’s Challenge. The presentation told students about Rachel’s life and her desire to “reach the unreached” while incorporating news clippings and video footage from the senseless act.

“I think the woman’s presentation was powerful,” junior Jenna Zottoli said. “Her presentation changed my viewpoint of other people and I believe it will make our school a better place.”

Rachel’s challenge is centered around the idea of starting a chain reaction. The idea of the chain reaction is that if one person shows kindness to someone who is down then they will show someone else kindness and it will spread from there.

The challenge also started a Friends Of Rachel club to help improve the environment of schools around the country. The club is intended to spread kindness and help any students who might be lost or feel left out.

Guidance counselors Pam Yelle and Marie White are in charge of Manteo’s F.O.R club. Students in the club were chosen by the faculty because their teachers believed that they would be good candidates to start this movement at Manteo. Because they were chosen, they were able to spend a little more time with Gibson the afternoon of the 27th.

“In addition to impacting the school in a positive way, we have arranged for leadership training for the students in the club,” Yelle said. “We want as many  people involved as possible since that’s how change will happen.”

The F.O.R club hopes to accomplish a lot in the next year. Welcoming new students to the school and helping them adjust will be one of the club’s priorities. They hope that through their actions, they will be able to spread kindness like Rachel wanted and make the school a more inviting and accepting place.

“It [Rachel’s challenge] will improve school climate and how students act towards each other,” Marie White said.

Not only will the program have students spread kindness through new activities, but in the F.O.R club there are leadership roles for students

“Leadership training, peer mentor training, and team building will all be offered to help our club be successful and to inspire others to be compassionate and accepting,” Yelle said.

The organization hopes that this program will help spread kindness through the school and make it so students feel more comfortable in their environment.

“Really, all of the club members will be leaders as they spread their positivity throughout the school,” Yelle said, “Specifically, we have started by dividing the club into committees such as peer mentoring, project, marketing, compassion in action, etc.  Each committee has a leader who will gather the ideas of their members.  We also have a historian, attendance taker and meeting facilitators.”

This non-profit organization is a nationwide program, and it was brought to Dare County by Trillium.

“Trillium [is] a local government agency that manages mental health, substance use and disability services,” Yelle said. “[Trillium] brought this program to all of the high schools and middle schools in the area.”