July 23, 2016

Partly sunny

From tragedy comes triumph

BRUNSWICK — Around 1994, a 13-year-old Colorado girl traced her hands on the back of her dresser and wrote: “These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will someday touch millions of people’s hearts.”

Rachel’s life was cut short in 1999 when the 17-year-old was one of the 13 victims of the Columbine High School massacre.

But some of the people she inspired have since been working to make sure the promise written on the back of the dresser is fulfilled.

a1mg_clr5colassembly2mk-copyDarrell Scott talks about his daughter’s impact on the world at an assembly Wednesday at Brunswick High School. Rachel Scott was one of the 13 victims of the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 in Colorado. Scott encouraged Brunswick students to spread a positive message instead of a negative one. (Maria Kacik / Gazette)

That’s what Rachel’s father, Darrell Scott, was doing at Brunswick High School this week.

“She was someone who believed her life was going to count. She believed she would make a difference in this world,” Scott said to an assembly of high school students on Wednesday.

Rachel’s Challenge is a presentation that 30 people connected to Rachel have been giving across the country. The challenge’s Web site reports that last year the presentation was given 3,184 times to a total of 1.3 million people. It focuses on the positive messages Rachel spread in her short life.

“I have this theory that if one person will go out of their way to show compassion it will start a chain reaction of the same,” Rachel wrote in a school essay a few weeks before she was killed.

The presentation asks its audience to follow Rachel’s example; for instance, by using kind wordsand eliminating prejudice, which may start a chain reaction of their own.

Scott asked the Brunswick students to start the chain by telling 10 people close to them that they care about them. Scott said the chain reaction has been ongoing for years. Rachel’s story has been told by national news outlets, and several celebrities have spread the message of Rachel’s life. Millions have heard her story and her “challenge.”

“I realized that Rachel’s impression had rippled around the world,” he said.

And it rippled into Brunswick City Schools this week. The presentation also was given to students at the district’s three middle schools on Tuesday.

“They were so inspired,” said Kelly Rutkowski, a teacher at Visintainer Middle School. She organized Scott’s visit to Brunswick because she said she wanted the students to hear his message.

At the high school presentation, a normally raucous crowd was silent throughout Scott’s talk.

“It was the first quiet assembly because everyone wanted to listen,” sophomore Iryna Pikuleva said. “I just think it’s so amazing how one person can change so many lives.

“It changed me completely,” junior Colin Smith said, adding he wants to spread the positive message.

Contact Maria Kacik at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.