ADAMS TWP — The lessons of Rachel's Challenge need to be taken out of the classroom and put into the community.
That's the reasoning behind the return of the Rachel's Challenge program slated for 6 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28 and again Feb. 7 at the Mars High School auditorium, 520 Route 228.
All parents and community members are invited to attend, according to organizer Jennifer Rath of Mars, a mother of four, who saw the program when it was presented last year to her sixth-grader.
Rachel's Challenge, based on the life and writings of Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim of the Columbine High School tragedy, works to equip and inspire individuals to replace acts of violence, bullying, and negativity with acts of respect, kindness and compassion and, in turn, to promote a safer, more connected school community.
“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 … You just may start a chain reaction.” Scott wrote in a school essay shortly before her death.
“I was incredibly moved by the program,” said Rath. “And I was incredibly disappointed by the turnout of about 30 parents.”
The message of working to make a more positive school atmosphere can be applied to the community as well, she said.
“This needs to work on the whole community if it is going to be effective,” said Rath. “This looks at reducing depression. That can really benefit the community.”
The program will offer Rachel's story; the story of her brother, Craig; as well as authentic news footage and an actual 911 call from the Columbine High School tragedy.
Therefore, the program is not recommended for children ages 12 and younger.
The school district will offer child care for children, ages 5-12, provided by members of Mars High School's Interact Club, Key Club, National Honor Society and student council and district personnel, from 5:45 to 7:45 p.m. in the high school gymnasium.
“This is a free event, anybody can attend,” said Rath. “We are hoping to draw people from Middlesex Township and Valencia.”
Mars Mayor Gregg Hartung said Rachel's Challenge is very good in helping students deal with bullying and promoting empathy and understanding.
He said, “Students live outside the school in the community. There is an aspect to Rachel's Challenge that can help the community engage with more civility.”
For more information, call 724-625-1518, visit https://rachelschallenge.org, or check out the district's Rachel's Challenge video at https://4.files.edl.io/58d1/10/17/18/173031-1bbe96aa-7eeb-445e-8f8b-0ef51b815ac2.mp4.