"Rachel's Challenge" lifts Battle Ground students

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by Katherine Cook

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kgw.com

Posted on May 31, 2011 at 9:54 AM

 BATTLE GROUND -- She was one of the thirteen, killed in the worst high school shooting of all time, but today, the words of Columbine student, Rachel Scott, are still inspiring others.

On Thursday, a family friend shared some of Rachel's words with students, at Battle Ground High School.

Loved ones said the 17-year-old lived to change the world, one person at a time by just being kind to them.

He challenged them to keep Rachel's dream alive.

"As a high school freshman, Rachel wrote in her journal, 'I'm going to change Columbine (High School) forever, because every day I’m going to reach out to three groups of students, so they know they're not alone,'" said "Rachel's Challenge" speaker and family friend, Dave Gamache. "She never told a soul what she’d written, but she lived it for three years," said Gamache.

Rachel's life was cut short when she was killed during the Columbine High School massacre on April 20,1999. Three bullets pierced her back as she ate lunch on the lawn outside the school library.

One bullet pierced the cover of Rachel's journal, on which she'd written, "I won't be labeled average."

"She wrote, 'don't let your character change color with your environment.'" said Gamache. "'Find out who you are, and let it stay its true color.'" Gamache travels the country sharing Rachel's words with students, hoping to change and inspire them.

Several students at Battle Ground High School said he did just that.

"I didn't think I was going to react like this," said junior, Sadie Newman, through tears. "I'm glad I did... it just makes you want to be different, you know?" "Our school has struggled with bullying," shared junior, Liz Smarr.

A timeless problem, and one Rachel tried to combat 12-years-ago. Her weapon of choice? Kindness.

"She said 'If I just use kind words and do little things right, I believe it will bring huge results,'" said Gamache.

Junior, Chris Ralston said the presentation had an immediate impact on him.

“I'm going to be honest, I was one of those kids who was sometimes mean to people," confessed Ralston. "I'm not going to be mean anymore. I'll respect people, take the time to smile at them, talk to them." Moments like that? Like a rose growing from the ground, watered by tears.

It's the description of a picture Rachel drew on notebook paper, just 20-minutes before she was killed. A picture that would later illustrate her legacy. "We don't talk about death and distraction," said Gamache.

"We talk about life and hope." Over the last two years, Gamache said volunteers have received about 450 e-mails from students who said they'd been planning to take their lives, but chose to live, after hearing "Rachel's Challenge."

To learn more about "Rachel's Challenge," visit www.rachelschallenge.org.

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