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Mount Si High's 'Day of Respect' pays tribute to Columbine victim

Signing her name on a giant banner, Mount Si High School junior Kristina Johnson accepts Rachel’s Challenge to spread kindness. Johnson was moved by Mount Si’s “Day of Respect” presentation about the legacy of Columbine shooting victim Rachel Scott. - Denise Miller / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Signing her name on a giant banner, Mount Si High School junior Kristina Johnson accepts Rachel’s Challenge to spread kindness. Johnson was moved by Mount Si’s “Day of Respect” presentation about the legacy of Columbine shooting victim Rachel Scott.
— image credit: Denise Miller / Snoqualmie Valley Record

High school student Rachel Scott believed in starting chain reactions of kindness. She reached out to the new students sitting alone in the cafeteria, the outsiders, the ones her peers made fun of. She pulled over to hold an umbrella for a stranger as he changed a flat tire in the rain. She changed lives through simple acts of compassion. She was killed by two classmates in the tragic 1999 shooting at Columbine High School.

While working through the pain of his loss, Scott’s father started a non-profit organization to spread her message of respect for others, and challenge them to be the best people they can be.

For a second year, Rachel’s Challenge encouraged Mount Si students to create legacies of compassion at the school’s “Day of Respect” morning assembly on Thursday, May 29. Speaker Derek Kilgore shared stories and video clips about Scott, the lives she touched, and the need for people to reach out to others to prevent disasters like the Columbine shooting.

“There’s little things we can do to make a big impact, big things you can do to make a big impact. Just because of who you are, that’s enough to make a difference,” Kilgore told the gymnasium packed with students.

Senior Katie Woolsey, who helped organize the event, said the school asked Rachel’s Challenge back for a second program because students were moved by their message. She was surprised at how touched she and others were by the previous assembly.

“I thought it was going to be kind of cheesy, but they showed clips of Columbine and it was eye-opening. We really do have to be nicer to each other,” Woolsey said.

She was optimistic that the program would foster kindness in the community.

“I hope it brings back that feeling that we can treat each other better, and get rid of the judgment that makes people think of high school negatively.”

Following the all-school assembly, Kilgore met with leaders from a variety of campus organizations, teaching them how to turn the energy generated by the presentation into positive change at Mount Si.

“I’m giving them concrete ideas like setting up an unsung heros day, or a trash clean-up,” Kilgore said.

Junior Haley Rohl said the school’s Natural Helpers group will use the training to “get the school closer.”

At lunch, students signed a poster pledging their commitment to accepting Rachel’s Challenge to spread kindness.

“I’ll take away (from the presentation) that one person can make a difference,” junior Taryn Sleight said as she signed her name.

In the evening, the school hosted a Rachel’s Challenge presentation for parents and community members.

• More information about Rachel’s Challenge is available online at www.rachelschallenge.com.

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