Hundreds of students at Timberview Middle School pledged to “start a chain reaction of kindness” after hearing Rachel’s Challenge during school and community events Jan. 31.Rachel’s Challenge was started by the family of Rachel Scott, the first student killed in the Columbine, Colo., school shooting on April 20, 1999. With parallels to Anne Frank, the Jewish teenager who died in a World War II concentration camp but left behind an inspiring diary, Rachel’s journals and an essay she wrote for English form the basis of a global anti-bullying program.The initiative came to Timberview primarily through the efforts of the school’s PAL (Peer Assistance & Leadership) group. PAL sponsor Jennifer Bass, a Timberview social studies teacher, asked members what program they wanted to have at the campus. After looking through a number of options, they chose Rachel’s Challenge.“We felt like it would be a good message,” said eighth grader Kaila Hoover, a PAL member. “A lot of people are getting bullied and this could be a good eye opener.”PALs raised $3,600 by manning the school’s concession stand and by hosting a volleyball tournament. TMS librarian Angela Wilson secured another $700 by requesting a grant from the Keller ISD Education Foundation. Wilson saw the community presentation two years ago when Keller High School hosted Rachel’s Challenge and believed the program would inspire students at Timberview.Rachel’s Challenge was presented by Kristi Krings, a singer/song-writer from Fort Collins, Colo. Krings showed a video documenting Rachel’s life and writing and asked students to commit to five principles: eliminating prejudice by thinking the best of others, dreaming big, choosing positive influences, speaking with kindness and starting their own chain reaction of kindness. Krings also asked students to sign a banner if they would take the pledge, and she asked for 100 kids to attend special training to be part of the Friends Of Rachel (FOR) club to make the initiative an ongoing effort at Timberview.Students said they were inspired by Rachel’s message.Eighth grader Faith Goines said, “I thought it was very life changing. It’s amazing how much your words can affect others.”Natalie Pate, another eighth grader, said, “It hit straight to the heart and made me think about who I really am and what I can do to help others.” Timberview Principal Carrie Jackson said she was proud that students in PAL made the program possible by raising the funds and presenting the idea to administrators. She would like all TMS students to remember the powerful message.“What I really hope they take away is that they have the ability to go out and really impact others with the way they treat one another,” Jackson said.For more information, go to rachelschallenge.org.
Sandra Engelland, 817-431-2231 Twitter: @SandraEngelland