Last updated: August 15. 2014 10:35AM - 458 Views
By - jbreger@civitasmedia.com

Parents sign their names next to Durant student signatures pledging to take “Rachel's Challenge” and start a chain reaction of kindness.
Parents sign their names next to Durant student signatures pledging to take “Rachel's Challenge” and start a chain reaction of kindness.
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Durant middle and high school students and parents were all asked Thursday to accept a challenge to be kinder. Instead of the school’s usual anti-bullying campaign, this year featured pro-kindness initiative Rachel’s Challenge.

It’s named for Rachel Scott, the first of 13 to die in the Columbine High School shooting April 20, 1999. Her family decided to take her positive message to the world.

One of Rachel’s idols was Anne Frank, who was made famous by her diary kept while hiding from Nazis. Like Frank, Scott kept a diary, and like Frank, it was filled with hopeful and inspirational messages.

One passage of Rachel’s diary reads, “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. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.”

That is the basis for Rachel’s Challenge. The organization members travel the country trying to start that chain reaction of kindness in schools.

Students heard the story of Rachel’s life, how she lived trying to be kind and help other, and how she had no doubt she would make a difference in the world.

They also heard stories from people who were touched by Rachel, both while she was alive and after her death.

Students listed to the program Thursday morning and parents that evening.

Students and parents were asked to take a four-part challenge. That includes looking for the best in others, dreaming big, choosing positive influences, speaking with kindness and starting their own chain reaction.

Durant Superintendent Duane Marideth said this is not a one-shot deal. It is something the school intends to work on every year.

Merideth said he hopes the students come away with kindness and compassion in the forefront of their minds.

The speaker at the event was Rachel’s uncle, Larry Scott. He said the movement got started when Rachel’s father found her diary and her friends spoke out about how she impacted their lives.

Her father decided he needed to share her story and spread her kindness.

“Every time I tell the story, I have to work through something, some emotion or some picture,” said Scott.

He added that it makes him feel great to hear about the people impacted by her story.

“It’s a feeling that gives me a lot of reward for what I do with Rachel’s Challenge,” Scott said.

Merideth said several students were greatly impacted by the program and the district will continue to have Rachel’s Challenge visit the school in future years.

- Jessica Breger can be reached at (580) 634-2162 or on Twitter @jbreger_news.

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