During the last week of September, Mars Area School District will be introducing students (K-12) and the Mars Area community to the “Rachel’s Challenge” positive school culture/anti-bullying program.
Rachel’s Challenge is based on the life and writings of Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim of the Columbine High School tragedy. The program works to equip and inspire individuals to replace acts of violence, bullying, and negativity with acts of respect, kindness and compassion and, in turn, to promote a safer, more connected school community.
“If one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go… You just may start a chain reaction.” Rachel Scott wrote in a school essay shortly before her death.
All secondary students will attend “Rachel’s Challenge” assemblies, which will offer Rachel’s story; the story of her brother, Craig; as well as authentic news footage and an actual 911 call from the Columbine High School tragedy.
- Tuesday, Sept. 25 — Mars Area High School, 8:30 a.m. (Grades 11-12);
10 a.m. (Grades 9-10)
- Wednesday, Sept. 26 — Mars Area Middle School, 8 a.m. (Grade 7); 9:20 a.m. (Grade 8)
Mars Area Centennial School students will join in “Rachel’s Story” assemblies at 9:15 a.m. (Grade 5) and 10:30 a.m. (Grade 6) on Thursday, Sept. 27. The program will discuss of the stories of Rachel and Craig Scott and will include basic Columbine news footage.
Students in Grades 2-4 at Mars Area Elementary School will attend “Kindness & Compassion” assemblies at 9:15 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 28. The presentation will introduce students to Rachel Scott and her challenge to reach out to others through deliberate acts of kindness.
At Mars Area Primary Center, teachers will be introducing students in Grades K-1 to the children’s book, “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” by Carol McCloud. The book encourages positive behavior through the concept of invisible buckets that can be filled with kindness, appreciation and love.
Throughout the school year, students who demonstrate positive behaviors will be given strips of paper, on which they will write their name before placing the paper in a bucket in their classroom. The strips will then be used to create paper chains of kindness that will be displayed throughout the school.
In addition, the District will introduce “Rachel’s Challenge” to parents and community members as part of a Community Night Presentation from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27, at Mars Area High School Auditorium.
The program is not recommended for children ages 12 and younger. Therefore, the District will offer childcare (ages 5-12), provided by members of Mars Area High School’s Interact Club, Key Club, National Honor Society and Student Council and their teacher sponsors, from 5:45 to 7:45 p.m. in the high school gymnasium.
A District-wide “White Out” will also be held on Friday, Sept. 28. All students and staff members will be encouraged to wear white in support of Rachel’s Challenge and a more positive school climate.
Since its inception, more than 23 million people have heard Rachel's story and the program is credited with preventing at least eight school shootings and more than 500 suicides. Rachel’s Challenge reaches more than two million students annually.
For more information, call (724) 625-1518.