Three assemblies, three grade-levels and one presentation shed light on ways to promote a safe and supportive learning environment for the students at Brownsville Middle School.
Rachel’s Challenge teamed with Brownsville Middle School to implement “Awaken the Learner: Five-Step School Improvement Process” through a PowerPoint presentation of the life of 17-year-old Rachel Scott, the first student victim of the shootings at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. Fifteen students died including two shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
“This event was emotional,” Principal Ebony Dunn said. “You could see the impact it had on students by looking at their faces.”
The presentation was hosted by Ali Nourbakhsh, one of the traveling presenters of Rachel’s Challenge, and started with a photo of Rachel and video recordings from various news outlets on the day of the shootings.
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“I have five challenges for you,” Nourbakhsh said. “The first one is from both Rachel and her brother, Craig Scott.”
The first challenge: Eliminate Prejudice.
The screen shows Scott talking about the day he thought he’d lose his life, but instead had to watch his friends lose theirs.
One of Scott’s friends, Isaiah Shoels, was the only black student to die at Columbine. Just before Klebold shot him, he shouted a racial slur.
“Take a look into your hearts and see if there are any traces of prejudice there,” Scott said. “Eliminate it.”
The next four challenges on the screen were to dream big; choose positive influences; speak with kindness; and start your own chain reaction.
“If Rachel were here, she would say what matters is the ability to believe in yourself,” Nourbakhsh said.
After the presentation, students were invited to the Friends of Rachel (FOR) Club training to learn about starting their own chain reaction.
“The FOR Club started today,” Dunn said. “This is what we are trying to promote to our students at Brownsville.”
On Monday, students signed a banner signifying their acceptance of Rachel’s Challenge.
Students who volunteer in the club will continue to meet and figure out ways to build and maintain a safe, caring and supportive learning environment.
For information about Rachel’s Challenge or to bring the program to your school, visit www.rachelschallenge.org.