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Chappaqua Students Take on Challenge of Kindness

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – Students at Robert E. Bell Middle School may not be old enough to remember the tragic events of the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999, but many have agreed to carry on the ideals of one of its victims.

On Tuesday, the school invited a speaker to share the story of Columbine shooting victim Rachel Scott with the student body, and to ask them to take on her challenge of kindness.

“If you’re looking for the worst in people, you’ll probably find it,” said Daryn Jackson, a speaker for Rachel’s Challenge, a nonprofit organization dedicated to Scott’s memory. “If you look for the best, you’ll find that, too.”

Looking for the best in others is one part of Rachel’s Challenge, which also asks participants to dream big, choose positive influences, speak with kindness and start your own chain reaction.

“We went to one of the area school districts and watched it, and we thought it was great,” said Annemarie Giannettino, school psychologist, about the presentation. “So we applied to have it, and now we brought it here to Bell.”

Rachel’s Challenge was started by Scott’s father following her death, in an effort to "motivate, educate and bring positive change to many young people." Shortly before Scott’s death, she wrote a two-page “code of ethics,” which the foundation aims to spread.

“You may think the things you say and do are insignificant, but to the people you say them to, they’re huge,” said Jackson. “There’s no such thing as a small compliment and there’s no such thing as a small insult.”

Following the presentation, approximately 45 students made up from every grade, sat down with Jackson to brainstorm ideas for how to make positive changes to their school.

The club will be called “Friends of Rachel” and will meet regularly throughout the school year to perform acts of kindness. Kind actions the group brainstormed was to plan to send letters to people who don’t normally get acknowledged and reach out to new students at the school.

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