Show of hands. Larry Scott, the uncle of Rachel Joy Scott, the first person killed in the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, asks for a show of hands in response to a point during his presentation of Rachel’s Challenge to Booneville Jr. High students last week.
Over 21 million have heard the story and been issued Rachel’s Challenge. This year alone a group of over 50 speakers will take the message to over 2,300 schools and 2.5 million or so students.
But does it work, and if so, how well? According to Larry Scott, the uncle of Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., as well as the organization’s website, www.rachelschallenge.org the answer is a resounding yes.
Larry Scott spoke in assemblies of high school and junior high students last Tuesday and during a community event later that evening. It was one of 90 to 100 schools he will visit this year.
The presentation includes very little about killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold but the two were, subjected to bullying, Scott said in an interview after a presentation. During the evening presentation Larry Scott said diaries belonging to the two insisted they would get even.
“Bullying was a problem with those two boys,” Scott said. “They wanted revenge. We don’t really dwell on that, we just barely mention it.”
The website quotes statistics that insist about 160,000 absences per day can be attributed to a fear of bullying.
Rachel’s Challenge has been issued at her high school as well, Scott said. The school has, he said, been transformed since it became the site of the worst high school shooting in history.
“They’ve had us about three times, and they love it,” said Scott, who, only recently moved from Littleton. “The principal who was there (then) just retired and he loves what we do. The school was definitely impacted by Rachel’s story and I think they’ve changed some.
Of course teachers have come and gone for various reasons since the incident.
The website tells the story of bitter, near out of control sports rivals Oscoda and Tawas — located about 10 miles apart in northern Michigan near Lake Huron — forming a human chain in the middle of their biggest game of the year.
The site also includes stories of planned suicides, be it over bullying or life in general, averted over witnessing Rachel’s Challenge. The count is over 500 in the last three years alone, the webiste states.