“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem; you have to find the right way to express yourself and realize that talking to your parents is OK,” 13-year-old Robin Martin told the Times-News on Monday.
Martin’s words are in lieu of the increasing severity of bullying and the toll it takes on students across the country. To further promote the anti-bullying message to local youth, a nationally-recognized nonprofit organization will visit Lincoln County Thursday to help area students just be nice.
This week, North Lincoln Middle will host a representative from Rachel’s Challenge — a group started by the father and stepmother of Rachel Scott, the first victim killed during the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.
NLMS counselor Daniel Donnellan is enthusiastic about the two sessions and community event that will all be held at North Lincoln. The day will be split up into two sessions, one for sixth-graders at 8:45 a.m., and another for seventh and eighth-grade students at 10:45 a.m. Later that night at 6 p.m., a community presentation with attendees including a permanent on-campus group of 85 students appointed by teachers — the Friends of Rachel Club, of which Martin is a member — will discuss ways to make the school and the county a more welcoming, accepting place.
“Rachel’s Challenge is a loud message,” Martin said.
The members of the newly-established school club will create construction paper links that, Donnellan hopes, will create a chain that wraps around the entire building — a physical symbol of the faculty and students’ agreement to fight against campus violence. With text messaging capabilities on cell phones, social networking websites and other technology outlets available to today’s kids, with it comes an entirely different type of harassment that isn’t as easy for educators to pinpoint, Donnellan said.
Based in Colorado, Darrell and Sandy Scott continue working in honor of Scott and to spread the message of their daughter that they hope will make a difference in preventing other school violence incidents such as the one that took Scott’s life 13 years ago.
After hearing their child had been shot by two students sporting trench coats and carrying firearms, Scott’s family started taking steps to create a group that would talk with students, educators and politicians about the importance of creating positive school and community environments to spread a message of kindness and compassion for others.
Today, various representatives, including Scott’s father, brother and sister, travel around the country to speak about their late-family member, and to show the impact of how being friendly towards peers can make a difference — something that can cause a “chain reaction.” To show the support of faculty and students’ and their agreement to fight against campus violence, Friends of Rachel at North Lincoln Middle will construct a chain made of construction paper links that, Donnellan hopes, will wrap around the entire building. For each nice gesture witnessed, a piece of the physical symbol will be added to the paper chain.
A presentation about Scott and interactive lesson will teach children about the effects of bullying, name-calling and other negative behaviors that can cause students to miss school to avoid being harassed, or worse. The pay-it-forward-mantra, and creating a long-lasting stream of treating others how you want to be treated, is something the 17 year old wrote about in her diary over a decade ago, and that is still being brought to life today.
An outline of her hand was found after her unexpected death, with the words, “these hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will someday touch millions of hearts” — the mission her family members and other volunteers who are a part of the organization hope to sustain at North Lincoln even after the presentation ends this week.