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'Rachel's Challenge' introduced to Albany schools

Craig Scott, brother of Columbine High School shooting victim Rachel Scott, made presentations in high schools throughout Dougherty County Monday to formally implement Rachel's Challenge into area schools.

Craig Scott, brother of Columbine High School shooting victim Rachel Scott, made presentations in high schools throughout Dougherty County Monday to formally implement Rachel's Challenge into area schools.

ALBANY -- A month after "Rachel's Challenge" was introduced to area community leaders and educators, its message made its way to Albany's schoolchildren.

Craig Scott, brother of Columbine High School shooting victim Rachel Scott, made presentations to several high school assemblies Monday in an attempt to formally implement the Rachel's Challenge program into school campuses in Albany.

One such presentation was conducted at Monroe High School.

"This is important not only to Monroe High School, but all four high schools in Dougherty County," Valerie Thomas, the school's principal, said before the presentation.

Rachel's Challenge was formed in the memory of Rachel Scott, the first to die in the April 1999 shooting. The goal of the organization is to promote kindness and compassion, with the goal of also preventing teen bullying and violence, in schools and communities nationwide.

The basis for the organization's message comes from the late teenager's acts of kindness and fearlessness, as well as the journals and other written works she left behind.

"She believed in one word very strongly -- compassion," Scott said of his sister Monday. "Rachel's theory was that anything you turn your attention on, you give power to."

The presentation made at Monroe featured news footage and dispatch fed from the day of the shooting, as well as video of Rachel Scott with her family.

Craig Scott, a student of Columbine High at the time, was in the library as the rampage was taking place -- he also lost two friends.

"(Prior to the shooting) I cared more about hanging out with cool people. My sister embarrassed me because she would hang out with people who weren't cool," he recalled. "It took me a tragedy to realize what was really important.

"(In the Columbine library), I watched as my buddies took their last breath. I was frozen. All I could do was pray, because my fear was too much to handle."

Through all of this, Scott said he learned that "from a person's worst pain can come their greatest purpose."

"If Rachel were here, I think she would let me know this message was worth spreading," he said.

From his experience as a student at the school before the massacre, he was able to give some insight into the shooters themselves -- who were both seniors.

"Eric (Harris) was always into lying to people. He had been planning the shooting for a year. Eric was the leader," Scott said. "Dylan (Klebold) had no self-worth, and was suicidal.

"People say: 'They conducted the shootings because they were bullied.' That's not really the case. Even though bullying was a factor, they were bulliers themselves. They always looked for the negative, and they were always allowing for negative influences."

During the course of his presentation at Monroe, he left the students with five challenges: to not allow others to label them, to have big goals, to practice kind acts, to eliminate prejudice and to start a chain reaction of kindness. There was also dancing to a rendition of "Lean on Me," which included the whole audience, as well as dancing by Scott in the aisles -- which the students joined in on.

Craig Scott is in Albany through Thursday with his brother, Mike Scott, who is conducting assemblies with area middle school students today. The brothers also are scheduled to participate in two community meetings as well as an assembly with Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital employees this week.

This is all following two presentations that their father, Darrell Scott, made in Albany on July 14. Phoebe has partnered with the Dougherty County School System and Albany private schools to bring in the program.