On the last morning of her life, Rachel Joy Scott drew picture in her diary depicting a pair of eyes with tears flowing from them onto a bed of roses.
She told a teacher who saw the drawing, “I’m going to have an impact on the world.”
A short time later, the 17-year-old high school junior became the first of 12 students who were shot to death by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold during their Columbine High School killing spree in Littleton, CO.
Her brother Michael Scott told that story somberly to students assembled in the auditorium of Mineola High School.
Scott, 26, will have told that story in 800 schools by the end of this year as part of an inspirational campaign dubbed “Rachel’s Challenge.” The presentation aims at delivering a message of kindness and compassion, two principles Rachel described as her “codes of life” in an essay she wrote shortly before her death.
It is a non-profit campaign that is making Scott’s late sister sound prescient as he expounded several principles to inform personal perspective and behavior.
The first principle is to eliminate prejudice and look for the best in others. Scott noted that the Columbine killers had adopted Adolf Hitler as a role model. Ironically, he said Rachel had taken Anne Frank, the iconic young Dutch diarist who died in a Nazi death camp, as he role model.
Dare to dream was another principle Scott expounded as he quoted from Rachel’s diary, saying, “Glory only comes when one pursues one’s dreams.”
He related a story about how his sister intervened one day when she saw a disabled schoolmate being beaten up by two bullies. She successfully face the bullies down.
“There are people in this school who are going through horrible things in their life. All it takes is a smile. We have the power to push them over the edge or keep them from going over the edge,” Scott said.
He quoted from one of his sister’s diaries again in expounding another principle: “Kind words and little acts of kindness get huge results.”
The climax of his presentation was the focal point of Rachel’s challenge, to start a chain reaction of compassion that can have an impact on one’s fellows.
Some of the students who sat through the hour-long presentation said it did have a positive impact on them.
“It makes you want to change,” Catherine Braun said.
“It really opens up your eyes,” said Jocelyn Kompancaril.
Michael Scott said making the presentations over the past two years has had a transformational effect on him and his family.
“Being able to share Rachel’s story has brought a lot of healing to our family. We’ve seen a lot of good come out of a terrible tragedy,” Scott said.
The presentation was made in Mineola High School two years ago and students in the school’s “Increase the Peace” organization requested the return visit, according to Ed Escobar, Mineola High School principal.
“It’s one thing to say they’ve seen the presentation. The kids now will meet to brainstorm on ideas,” Escobar said.