Battle Ground High School has a different feel after introducing the program “Rachel’s Challenge."
Rachel Scott was the first student killed in the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. She had dreamed of a world where students treated each other with kindness and love and dropped their prejudices.
Battle Ground High introduced the program in May of 2011. Freshman Evan Keerbs said the challenge helped students see they have many of the same fears and worries.
“It's shown the weak side of people,” he said. “ It's broken through their defenses and shown them for who they really are so now it basically helped out the community. And now everyone knows everything. We're all equal inside," said Keerbs.
He knows something about differences. A year ago he switched from braces to a wheelchair. He was born with spina bifida, which affects his ability to walk.
The Rachel’s Challenge program helped him change the way he looks at his fellow students.
“No one should be left out. No one should be discriminated because of how other people see them," he said.
Cole Brady agrees the program made a difference and changed his perception. “It made me rethink -- there are actually some decent people left in this world -- not completely screwed up people where no one cares anymore, because that's generally how I thought -- no one cared anymore,” he said.
Brady said he is one of the few openly gay students at Battle Ground High. He said before the challenge he was called names and even shoved into a locker. After the challenge people treated him better. And he realized he’d been judging too.
“I actually like opened up and realized hey maybe their life is kinda terrible so maybe I should just stop being so rude to people and actually realize what they're going through instead of thinking what I'm going through,” he said.
Lizbeth Pena is another student who has felt the impact of Rachel’s Challenge. She says her school is more of a community and people are more willing to share.
“Now everyone, because of Rachel's challenge, they're like 'okay this is okay -- I can share my story with other people. And before I was like leave me alone. I am my own person. I don’t need you to be in here with me.'”
And its not just the kids noticing change. Alice Norton, a school counselor says its had a huge, positive impact.
“We’ve seen a lot of positive things,” she said.