COLUMBIA CITY — It was a day like any other in the classroom. Students talking and laughing, studying and dreaming about the future.
But a darkness that had begun years earlier broke in on the scene and lives ended too soon, dreams never to be realized.
Columbine High School.
The first student killed that day, April 20, 1999, was Rachel Scott. The shooters were allegedly victims of bullying for years and had taken their revenge in a random shooting spree at their high school.
Close to home
It was a day like any other at Columbia City High School in Roseann Fahl’s Spanish class. But there was unrest among the students. A recent incident had them up in arms about bullying in the school.
In support of the student who had been harassed, the students decided to take action.
“The kids took the lead and ran with it,” said Fahl.
Rather than violence, the local students decided to take action in acts of kindness to those who were targets of the bullies.
The student-led initiative is culminating in a program for the public this evening at the high school gym called “Rachel’s Challenge.”
A few weeks after the tragedy in Columbine, Rachel’s father spoke to the Congressional House Judiciary Committee about school violence and soon founded “Rachel’s Challenge.”
Modeled after Rachel’s life and the writings in her diaries, the program stresses the “universal message of kindness and compassion” toward others, according to the website www.rachelschallenge.org .
The program has been seen by more than 1.32 million students since 2008 and was presented to the freshmen and sophomores at Columbia City High School this morning at 8:15 a.m.; the juniors and seniors at 10:35 a.m. and will be given for the general public at 7 p.m. tonight.
Family members and friends of Rachel Scott will be at CCHS to present the program, according to Fahl, speaking and giving a video presentation.
“The goal of the students is to change the culture of the entire community,” Fahl said.
The students have formed a club called S.A.V. or Students Against Violence, which will be working with the YMCA and the Domestic Violence Task Force “to allow our program to permeate our community,” Fahl said.
The program is free to the public.