HOUSTON—A 17-year-old girl who was killed in the Columbine High School shootings left a legacy that’s resonating with millions of students throughout the country, including some in our area.
In the horror of April 20, 1999, the very first student to die at Columbine High School was a girl named Rachel Joy Scott.
"My only hope was maybe she was shot, crawled away under some staircase or stairwell and was unconscious and no one had found her yet," her father, Darrell Scott, says about his thoughts that day.
A few days after burying his middle daughter, Scott found that Rachel had left several diaries.
"Open up her final page of her diary and, bam, there I’m looking at a picture of her eyes and her tears watering a rose," said Darrell Scott. "Tears turn to blood drops."
Rachel drew the picture her father described during the last two hours of her life.
Her tears, her sorrow, might help something else grow. Something like the essay she’d written a month earlier. A code of ethics, a challenge.
"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," her essay said. "People will never know how far a little kindness can go."
So far, the words contained in that essay have resonated, with public speakers spreading the message at assemblies around the country.
"She was our sparkplug," said Scott. "She looked for the best and found it."
Rachel’s Challenge, replacing bullying and school violence with kindness and compassion, is an attempt to change the culture in America’s schools. Approximately 15 million have received the message from Rachel’s brothers and sisters, her father, and an organization that now bears her name.
"If we can reach the students’ heart, they will give us their head for instruction and their hands for service," said Scott.
Like the hand her father found traced on the back of a dresser at home when she was only 13 years old.
"These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will someday touch millions of people’s hearts," said Scott.
Millions that will now include Houston.
"You never get over it, totally. But at the same time, how many parents get to do what I have done?" asked Scott. "For 11 years, celebrate a life that lasted 17 years that is still impacting the world. And to see literally hundreds of students’ lives saved. We really don’t know people sometimes until we lose them."
And it’s hoped Rachel’s Challenge will keep us from losing any more.