ADAMS TWP — Discussion of budgets and building projects were temporarily replaced by a concert and sing-along at Tuesday's Mars School Board meeting.
Officials and students from each school in the district presented their experiences thus far with the Rachel's Challenge program, which was introduced in the district at the beginning of the year.
The program is based on the life and writings of Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim of the Columbine High School tragedy. It works to equip and inspire individuals to replace acts of violence, bullying and negativity with acts of respect, kindness and compassion.
Faculty and students, as well as members of the community, attended presentations on the program last month, and have been putting those lessons to work since then.
The experience of hearing the story of Rachel's Challenge was an emotional one not just for students, but for teachers as well. Bill Wesley, a science teacher at the High School, said the discussions he's had with students as a result of the program have been unlike anything he's experienced in his 30 years of teaching.
“It's the first time that I ever connected on that level,” he said. “Nobody wanted to talk at first, but then I shared a couple things, and a couple started sharing. It takes a little prodding ... but I learned a couple things and I know they learned a couple things about me.”
He felt inspired and wrote a song about the message of the program, and recruited fellow teachers Jennifer Kennedy, Emily Cunningham and Pete Black to sing and play it for students. The song is titled “Chain Reaction,” named for the idea that one kind deed can lead to a series of others. The group made a recording, and will fine-tune a version to be played at the school's new program.
Wesley said students have been very receptive to the song.
“The students really got into it, more than I thought they would,” he said. “I've heard them singing it down the hallways.”
Wesley played the song for those in attendance, and had them join in and sing the refrain. He received a rousing ovation.
Read the full story in The Cranberry Eagle.