Rachel's Challenge Community Event, Thursday Sept. 7 at 6 pm in the MPR

Time out--we need to tell you about something.

Although families and community members are often invited to special events at OV, tonight’s Rachel’s Challenge presentation (Thursday, Sept. 7 at 6 pm in the MPR) is different. You will learn more about what students in grades 5-12 heard in assemblies today, and we can almost guarantee that it will affect you personally in some way.

Principal Rob Berson opened the first assembly by saying that OV is safer now than it has ever been, but it’s time for students to learn more about being much kinder to each other. So, Alex Jackson is here from Colorado providing information today and tonight, plus additional training tomorrow to students and staff about Rachel’s Challenge, the school program that inspires a growing culture of compassion.

This program is based on the short life, example, and writings of Rachel Joy Scott, the 16 year old who was the first to be killed in the Columbine High School tragedy in 1998. While this extreme example of horrific violence played out in the media, up to and including Rachel’s televised funeral, we learned today that there was much more to the story.

Through video, photos, sound, and story, we learned about the positive power of one life, and the capacity for any of us to cause a chain reaction using the same attitudes Rachel modeled. We are particularly helped in learning more because Alex is also friends with Craig Scott, Rachel’s younger brother whose friends were killed beside him in the library of the high school.

Alex is just 26 years old, a musician, a blue collar worker in Colorado where he lives, and also one of the Rachel's Challenge speakers who travels all over the country doing what needs to be done: offering another way. He carries the wisdom and compassion of someone much older...although we saw today that wisdom can also come from people of any age, include 16 year olds.

It is emotional, yes. We saw some Columbine High School footage and Scott Famly home videos that we’d not seen before. We learned more from Rachel’s friends, only because they came forward with details after her death. We also learned about striking synchronicities that are not easily explained, but that point to the astonishing impact of one young life, now years after her death.

To be clear: this program and its training is not about sensationalizing a history-making tragedy. Although we need to know the whole story to understand its significance, it has served as a tool to allow students and staff appreciate the power of choice, of attitude, of noticing. It is completely relevant to any human life, whatever the age, location, or history.

This one-hour presentation is highly recommended for everyone in the Otselic Valley. We especially recommend it for families of our students in grades 5-12 who heard this material today.Going forward, we look forward to accepting Rachel’s Challenge so that each of us may make the difference. That’s how it happens, after all -- one person decides to choose another way, a second person is encouraged and strengthened by that action, and on it goes.

This is powerful material that has now been shared with 24 million worldwide, including OV. There is no doubt that after today’s experience, students will be equipped to think once, twice, and then again about the value of others’ lives, and their own.

We sincerely hope to see you tonight.

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