Edmond students pledge to embrace kindness during anti-bullying program
An anti-bullying program based on the writings of a Columbine victim was introduced this week in three Edmond schools.
EDMOND — Betsy Sweiger is taking the challenge, because she's been the new kid before.
The sixth-grader at Sequoyah Middle School sat Monday with her mother, Mollyann, on the purple bleachers in the Cougar gym.
Betsy had told her mom about Rachel's Challenge, which had been introduced to her and her classmates earlier that day, and suggested they attend the parent and community meeting.
Rachel's Challenge is an anti-bullying program based on the writings of Rachel Scott, the first person killed in the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999.
The goal is to inspire students to replace acts of violence, bullying and negativity with acts of spect, kindness and compassion.
About a week after Rachel's funeral, her parents found an essay she had written a month before her death, calling for her peers to “start a chain-reaction of kindness and compassion.”
In an hourlong presentation Monday, parents and students watched clips of Rachel's family and friends challenging others to follow that advice in their schools and communities.
Rachel, known in her high school for extending a kind hand to her classmates, wrote that the key to making her school and community a better place was by reaching out to those who were new, bullied or just having a rough day.
“I have this theory that if one person will go out of their way to show compassion then it will start a chain reaction of the same,” she had written. “People will never know how far a little kindness will go.”
Betsy said she was nervous on her first day of school, worried that she wouldn't make any friends. The number of students, more than 1,200, made the situation a bit overwhelming, especially since she was coming from a much smaller elementary school.
But she said the trick to getting to know people is to say hello.