Enfield Students Taking On Rachel's Challenge

The public is invited to attend presentations at Fermi High School Wednesday, and Enfield High School Thursday night.

Rachel Joy Scott wanted to make a difference in other's lives, and 13 years after her tragic death, the impact she made continues to touch millions of people.

Scott was the first person killed in the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999 in Littleton, CO. A teacher and 12 students were fatally wounded in the rampage by Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, who then each committed suicide.

A 17-year-old senior at the time of her death, Scott was known as a kind young woman who always reached out to students who were new to the school or who didn't appear to have many friends.

She wrote about her dreams and hopes in numerous journals, right up until a few hours before she was killed.

Scott loved a quote from the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King: "The chain reaction of evil must be broken." Inspired by her outlook on life, her family began Rachel's Challenge, intended to "motivate, educate and bring positive change to many young people." 

Rachel’s Challenge presentations are given in schools and communities nationwide by members of her family and other speakers, using video footage of the massacre and its aftermath, as well as her drawings and journal entries, with the goal of preventing school violence, bullying, and teen suicide.

As a result of a combined effort of town and school officials, Jim Kennedy, a representative of Rachel's Challenge, is visiting many Enfield schools this week, speaking to student assemblies during the day and conducting evening presentations that are open to all residents.

"It's a remarkable story that would bring tears to anybody," Board of Education chairman Tim Neville said. "It was a nice collaborative effort with the town side and board side to put this together. It's nice to see us all working together for something as positive as this."

Kennedy addressed about 100 students and parents Tuesday night in the auditorium at John F. Kennedy Middle School, asking them to accept five challenges from Rachel:

  • Look for the best in others;
  • Dream big;
  • Choose positive influences;
  • Speak with kindness;
  • Start your own chain reaction.

Kennedy principal Tim Van Tasel said, "The response was overwhelming by the students and teachers. It's giving us an opportunity to reflect on JFK Middle School, and the direction we'd all like to see the school go in. We're going to do a lot over the next year, in which we hope to bring together the community of JFK - the parents, the families and the teachers - and really build on this Rachel's Challenge opportunity."

"I think the program has a very powerful message, not only to the students who are living the environment day to day but to parents and grandparents, that out of tragedy, something positive can come," Mayor Scott Kaupin said. "People start chain reactions, as they say, and we can make a better school climate and better community." 

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jeffrey Schumann said, "It's certainly one of the most moving programs I've ever seen presented to students. It causes them to think, to remember, and hopefully to change what they plan on doing from this point on."

Craig Begnoche, parent of an eighth-grade student, commented, "It blew me away. It opened your eyes to what one kid can do, and how many people they affected through it. It made me feel, why can't I be a better person."

Kennedy will be addressing Fermi High School, route: {:controller=>"listings", :action=>"show", :id=>"enrico-fermi-high-school"} --> students on Wednesday, with a public presentation scheduled there at 7 p.m. On Thursday, he will do the same at

Max Delano September 19, 2012 at 11:13 AM
Great article Tim...Thanks for posting. We did this in Somers a couple of years back and has had a tremendous impact on everyone.
M Miller September 19, 2012 at 10:32 PM
What a lovely young woman and what a beautiful legacy. How sad that she was taken so tragically and so young. I recall reading about her when this horrible event took place. I think it was a very positive thing for the school administration to present. well done.
jude gutierrez October 21, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Mr. Van Tasel has begun a program which will positively impact each student in JFK! The message of Rachel's Challenge interfaces the best of Scouts and church philosophies in a secular vehicle. Our kids are being inundated with negative values in much of our social media...this program begins a legacy of social kindness!


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