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Middle schools accepting Rachel’s Challenge

National program based on life of Columbine student
By: Gloria Beverage, Placer Herald editor
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The death of Rachel Scott, who was killed in the 1999 Columbine High School shooting spree, has inspired a national movement.

By turning the story of the tragic death of a high school student into a mission for change, the founders of

Rachel’s Challenge are striving to create safer learning environments throughout the world.

Rachel’s Challenge is a series of student-empowering programs and strategies that equip students and adults to combat bullying and ally feelings of isolation and despair by creating a culture of kindness and compassion on school campuses.

The programs are based on the writings and life of the 17-year-old high school student, who left a legacy of reaching out to those who were different, who were picked on by others or who were new at her school.

Each day, 160,000 students refuse to go to school because they have been bullied, teased and harassed, according to the Rachel’s Challenge website.

Next week, Rachel’s Challenge assemblies will be held at Spring View and Granite Oaks middle schools. A bullying prevention and cyber-safety parent night will be held from 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday in the Rocklin High School theater.

“Rachel’s Challenge is a great program that provides our middle school students tools to combat prejudice,” said Diana Ruslin, a member of the Rocklin Educational Excellence Foundation, the primary financial contributor for the Rocklin assemblies. “This program is an initiative to improve the culture on the middle school’s campus.

The teachers and administrators are united in their desire to see Rachel’s Challenge have a positive impact on their students by creating a kinder, more compassionate culture on their campus. In order to change a culture, we all have to speak the same language.”

Spring View Middle School Principal Marty Flowers has witnessed the powerful impact of the program.

“I had an opportunity to observe this program last year at Foothill Farms Middle School. The speaker had the student body in silence as he presented the consequences bullying had on its victims,” Flowers said. “We need to continue to remind our young adults of the dangers that go along with making rude and inappropriate comments or posting something negative on a website. There is no eraser attached to a computer, so once it is sent, there is no turning back.”

Granite Oaks Middle School Principal Jay Holmes added, “The program will be empowering every middle school student in Rocklin to challenge themselves and others to lead a kind and compassionate life. We are confident this event will help us with our fight on bullying in our schools.”

While the assemblies set the stage for making students aware, parents are also being encouraged to get involved.

“Parents will be encouraged to learn how they can help their students live a life of compassion and caring toward others,” Holmes said. “We are hoping to forge a student, parent, school bond that will help us move forward with keeping our campuses and students safe. It does take a village to raise a child.”

It’s crucial that parents remain involved with their students, Flowers added.

“Parents need to understand that their involvement in middle school is going to change,” he said. “We don’t need parents to assist in the classroom. We need parents to assist with their student being organized, assist their students with showing compassion and monitor what their student is doing online.”

Following the assemblies, Ruslin continued, each school will form a leadership program for 50 students as well as establish an after-school program to continue to address Rachel’s five challenges.

“Although our children are fortunate to attend school in such a positive environment within the Rocklin Unified School District, the anti-bullying and ‘chain reaction of kindness’ message illustrated in Rachel’s Challenge would be of great benefit to our entire community,” Rocklin Police Chief Ron Lawrence noted.

While the Rocklin Educational Excellence Foundation is the primary financial supporter, additional funding is
being provided by donations from individuals, the Granite Oaks Financial Club and Spring View Middle School.

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Rachel’s Challenges
• Eliminate prejudice by looking for the best in others.
• Dare to dream. Set goals. Keep a journal
• Choose your
influences. Input determines output.
• Kind words + small acts of kindness = huge impact
• Start a chain reaction with family and friends

Rachel’s Challenge parent event
When:
6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Rocklin High School Theater
What: Information on national program being presented at Granite Oaks and Spring View schools