In September 2011, the East-West community joined Rachel's Challenge to promote a positive school culture through tolerance. Ms. Marinos described her motivation for bringing this powerful program to East-West:
The goals were to create a safe learning environment for all students, prevent school violence and bullying, improve academic achievement by engaging students' hearts, heads and hands in the learning process, and provide them with a social/emotional education.
Rachel Scott was the first student who was killed in the Columbine High School tragedy in 1999. During the school day portion, a Rachel's Challenge speaker shared Rachel's story and her message: Start a chain reaction with simple acts of kindness. Teachers gave special lessons and activities about anti-bullying during their regular classes.
"I accept the challenge to dream big."
Family, friends, and community members were welcomed to an evening assembly, where they participated in the same presentation the students had earlier in the day and invited to share in the mission to create a lasting positive change in the school culture.
In order to keep the positive impact of the program alive at East-West, a group of teachers and students from grades 6-12 were trained to be in a "Friends of Rachel" club. Hiba Rashid '12 described her experience:
As the members of the F.O.R. met for the first time to discuss our goals and the purpose of this club, many people surprised me. I began to see many people in a new light, a side of them I’ve never seen or expected. It just made me realize that everyone has a story and before understanding that individual’s story, you shouldn’t even begin to judge them.
I hope that East-West students will be able to continue Rachel Scott’s memory and create their own ways of how to change the point of view of others. The advice I have to offer to those who experienced the extended presentation of Rachel’s Challenge is this:
I hope everyone will dedicate themselves to the F.O.R. club, not just for the first couple of days, or a few months but for this entire year and onward. If you were truly touched today, then take a chance to change someone else's life too.
For more information, visit Rachel's Challenge.
View the full photo album for Rachel's Challenge
Friends of Rachel training.
"I will look for positive influences in life so it can help me exceed more and & learn what I can't learn on my own."
Students developed their own "code of ethics" after studying Rachel Scott's essay.
A class discussion on the impact of the presentation.
Elected officials and community leaders attended the assembly.
Signing the banner.