Troy takes 'Rachel's Challenge'
TROY - Stacey Ostrander and her daughter, Brooke, 16, of Troy were among the many people who showed up at "Rachel's Challenge" Tuesday in Troy.
The program, focusing on Rachel Scott, who was the first person killed at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, seeks to prevent bullying and violence and foster positive relations among young people, according to the "Rachel's Challenge" website.
"She told me it was a must-see," said Stacey Ostrander, as she sat in the audience Tuesday night in the auditorium beside her daughter, a sophomore. Brooke Ostrander said she took a lesson from "Rachel's Challenge" - to "be nice to everyone because you don't know what they're going through."
According to the program website, Rachel's "acts of kindness and compassion coupled with the contents of her six diaries" are the foundation for "Rachel's Challenge," described as "one of the most life-changing school programs in America." It presents "powerful video/audio footage of Rachel's life and the Columbine tragedy" and "holds students spell-bound during a one-hour school presentation that motivates them to positive change in the way they treat others."
A speaker, Dave Gamache, presented the program. He said Rachel's story has "inspired so many millions of people to do incredible things," and he talked about how students in Troy responded enthusiastically to the message.
It was shown to students in the daytime in the Troy Area School District and was open to the entire community in the evening at Memorial Auditorium.
Jennifer Judson, school counselor at Troy Intermediate School, said the "Rachel's Challenge" program was "amazing."
"I think it's helped students to look at people from a different light, and not judge by appearances and not take things for granted," she said.
At the elementary level, she said, the program drove home the importance of kindness, respect, and including others.
She said the district is "trying to start a culture where everyone is kind," lessen bullying, and "help people be more kind to others."
Rachel's compassionate writings proved a stark contrast to those who were responsible for the Columbine tragedy.
Gamache explained how Rachel wrote an essay called "My Ethics, My Code of Life," in which she wrote about her 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." The audience was urged to eliminate prejudice by looking for the best in others and also to choose positive influences.
According to the "Rachel's Challenge" website, "more than 18 million people have been touched by Rachel's message."
It's an appropriate result for a girl who predicted that she would one day "touch millions of people's hearts."
Students, their family members, and staff members in the Troy Area School District are now part of Rachel's legacy.
Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.