Print Columbine girl’s story aims to end bullying
Written by Greg Ruland   
Wednesday, 02 February 2011 00:00

Honesty and compassion undergird the ethical code of Rachel Scott, the first person killed during the mass school shooting at Columbine High School outside Denver in 1999. Her legacy, Rachel’s Challenge, comes to Mingus Union High School on Tuesday, Feb. 8.

Genna Adams, left, talks with her Language Arts Enrichment students about their paper on life’s challenges during class time Thursday, Jan. 27. Adams is an organizer of the Tuesday, Feb. 8, “Rachel’s Challenge” assembly aimed at decreasing bullying and boosting empathy among the student body and her students are exploring the topic within the class curriculum.Based on diaries and essays by Scott, the challenge seeks to “inspire, equip and empower every person to create a permanent, positive cultural change by starting a chain reaction of kindness and compassion,” said Genna Adams, an MUHS educator.

Cosponsors MUHS and Cottonwood Police Department urged community members to attend the assembly at MUHS Auditorium where “powerful” footage of Scott’s life and the Columbine shooting will be presented sat 7 p.m.

“People need to come to this,” Adams said. “As an educator, I want to see this continue. I want to see a long-term cultural change take place in our community.”

The assembly for the community follows another assembly and training session presented earlier in the day specifically for students.

Cottonwood Police Chief Jody Fanning was largely responsible for locating $5,000 needed to fund the program, which pays for program materials and to bring a member of the Rachel’s Challenge organization to MUHS to assist with the presentation and training, Adams said.

“Bullying is only the beginning,” Fanning said. “Typically bullies turn into domestic violence abusers and other types of criminals and right now the schools have nothing to fight it with. This gives schools the ability to educate the kids and prevent them from starting down that road.”

“We see it. I have had my children in Mingus and they’ve seen it. Our school resource officers have seen it. Bullying is
everywhere, from the middle school on up,” he said.

The program will eventually make its way to Cottonwood Middle School, Fanning said.

In an essay on her own personal ethical code, Scott wrote, “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.”

Audience members can attend a training session afterward where they can learn how to implement Scott’s principles into their lives.

The assembly creates the desire for positive change. The training session teaches participants how to ensure the positive impact continues, according to the Rachel’s Challenge website.

Following the presentation, Adams will sponsor a new student club, Friends of Rachel. Members will be trained to take the program into other schools and different venues.

“How do you take a culture that is already established and change it?” Adams asked. “We will work collaboratively as a staff to sustain those changes. We’re the role models.”