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Columbine shooting still draws action
Rachel's Challenge organizing here
rachel sweater
Rachel Scott
By Daisy Pleasant Jones
Coastal Courier (Hinesville, GA) Staff Writer

While local administrators and law enforcement officials discuss ways to curb violence and gang activity, one school spurred students and parents to dialogue about the change that can be made by one person.
Alexis Waller was in elementary school when 17-year-old Rachel Scott was killed.  
Scott was the first person killed on April 20, 1999, when students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went on a shooting spree at Columbine High School.
They killed a teacher, 11 other students and wounded 27 others in 22 minutes. It was the worst school shooting in U.S. history.
Scott was shot while sitting outside eating lunch. Her funeral was broadcast live on a major television network.
Scott penned a number of her thoughts and beliefs in six diaries that were later found by her family. She wrote an essay for school called “My Ethics, My Code of Life” and her family established a project called Rachel’s Challenge to promote her ideals.
This past month, Waller was among more 1,500 students and faculty at Bradwell Institute challenged to change the world, much like Scott had done.
“We are hoping to combat violence and make a difference,” Bradwell Institute Principal Vicki Albritton said.
Later the same day, parents and residents had a chance to witness the life-changing event.
Rachel’s Challenge presenter Cody Burch shared stories and writings about Scott. Powerful video and audio footage of her life and the Columbine tragedy gripped the emotions of the audience during the one-hour school presentation.
Audio of a young female’s voice tells the audience “Compassion can start a chain reaction of kindness.”
“She wasn’t perfect but she made a lot of good decisions in her life,” Burch said.
Students, parents and several members of the school board listened as Burch issued them a challenge.
“I encourage everybody to do these things for the next 30 days. Before you judge somebody, give them three chances. Look at their heart,” he said.
“It changed me,” Waller said. “It opened our eyes to see that even though people aren’t like us we should still accept them, respect them and be nice to them for who they are,” the BI sophomore said.
“It made a big impact on my life.  It changed my ways because usually I’m the type of person that if I see the way you act I judge you then. But now it makes me see that I should get know a person before I judge them,” BI freshman Shanequa Bias said.
Liberty County Board of Education Chairman Lily Baker and School Superintendent Dr. Steve Wilmoth attended the evening session. The presentation was a painful reminder to Wilmoth of what he experienced as a superintendent in an Oklahoma school system in 1999 when a 13-year-old boy brought his father’s 9mm pistol to school and shot four students.
“It certainly had an impact and it was an eye opener for everyone,” Wilmoth said.  
“From my experience, it probably affected me more than anyone there. He (Burch) was telling a story and I was seeing my kids laying on the sidewalk bleeding. I was seeing students hugging each other and trying to understand what happened.
I was looking at one thing on the screen and I was seeing myself living through it again. Same scenario, different players. I just hope nobody has to go through it,” Wilmoth said.  
“You’re never prepared for the actual happening of a situation like that. It was the most devastating thing I’ve ever been through. Our school was prepared but after it happens you realize you can never be prepared.”
Rachel’s Challenge was presented within days of 17-year old Deterrell Jackson’s murder in Hinesville’s Alston Ridge mobile home park and the death of two 17-year-old female students who died together in a wreck.
After the presentation, audience members commented about the program.
“It was very touching. In light of the situations that are going on in the Hinesville area, I think it was a very timely program to know that tomorrow is not promised to us. We’ve got to do what we’re supposed to do while we’re here.  I think this was very good for our children,” Hinesville resident and youth pastor Daniel Boyd said.
Albritton said she prayed the sessions would make a positive change and they did.
“I’ve have gotten to know more students. They come up to me and talk about it and I’ve gotten of couple of notes,” she said Tuesday.
Students have been motivated to start The Friends of Rachel club and reach out to other students.
“They would like to see us mentor younger students. They want to see us reach out from our school and they want to see more involvement,” the principal said. “They want it to be about compassion and acceptance ... those are the words they used this afternoon,” Albritton said.
She wants students and adults to see the possibilities of growth and maturity. “There are so many kids that get lost in the negative and that’s what the public sees, but that’s not the majority,” she said. “It’s about redemption that all of us can be better than we are right now. So many of our kids mature and blossom into something we didn’t see when we got them. We all can do better and better next year than we are this year.”
BI sophomore Kasean Taylor said it makes him want to enjoy life.
“I know a lot of people that passed a way, and this makes a big impact on me to live life and do the right thing,” he said.


 1) Eliminate prejudice by looking for the best in others.

 2) Dare to dream. Write down goals, and keep a journal.

 3) Choose positive influences. Input determines output.

 4) Do acts of kindness.

 5) Start a chain reaction.

For more information about Rachel’s Challenge log on to
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