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Students at Remer Northland High School in Remer, Minn., hold a banner signed by the student body to accept Rachel's Challenge of showing compasion to others. On the far right stands Michael Scott, Rachel Scott's brother. Rachel Scott was the first victim in the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. Submitted Photo

Rachel's Challenge: Students start chain reaction of compassion

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Nearly 400 students and community members of Remer have heard the message of teenager Rachel Scott and are now starting a chain reaction of kindness and compassion in their school.

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Scott was the first victim in the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999.

She had a theory:

"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," Scott, 17, wrote shortly before her death in an essay that is being repeated before student groups across the country, like those in Remer's Northland High School.

Scott's acts of kindness and compassion toward other people along with the contents of her six diaries have become the foundation for what has become a very impactful program in America. So far the Rachel's Challenge multimedia program on her life and death has become the largest in-school assembly program in the country and has reached more than 12 million teens and adults. The program has become international, reaching Ireland, Australia and Canada with messages of kindness.

The program got its start a few weeks after the tragedy when Darrell Scott, Rachel's father, spoke to a Congressional House Judiciary Committee regarding issues of school violence. Shortly thereafter, he founded Rachel's Challenge, a bullying and violence abatement program.

As part of its ongoing community involvement efforts, Lake Country Power sponsored the program at the Remer School. Students listened as Michael Scott, Rachel's brother, talked about her life and code of ethics during the 60-minute presentation. Michael Scott challenged the students to get rid of prejudice, speak kind words, dare to dream and write down goals, seek out positive influences and start a chain reaction of kindness.

"The Rachel's Challenge program is based on reality and I think that's what makes it stand out," said Joe Aakre, principal of Remer Northland High School, in a press release. "There were tears and a lot of hand holding."

Aakre said the school plans to continue the ethics of Rachel's Challenge through its Youth in Action group. Nearly 40 students are part of the action group and some will meet with the school social worker to carry the program along into the school year and into the future of Remer Northland High School.

Several students in Remer joined the Friends of Rachel training program which teaches leadership skills as students practice acts of kindness and compassion to help sustain the positive change brought to the school after three large-group assemblies.

Following the assembly in Remer, a student presented Michael Scott with a school t-shirt and a verbal promise that the school will carry out Rachel's code of ethics.

For more information about Rachel's Challenge, visit www.rachelschallenge.org.

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