MEXICO - Rachel Scott’s final school essay theorized that if one person goes out of their way to show compassion, it could start a chain reaction of kindness.

Hundreds of Mexico High School students and staff, along with Board of Education members, learned from this powerful message during a program titled Chain Reaction that was inspired by Scott, the first person killed in the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.

Chain Reaction’s goals are to increase personal power and self-esteem, to shift dangerous peer pressure to positive peer support and to address the issues of violence, teasing, social oppression, racism, harassment, conflict management, suicide, alcohol and drugs.

“We hope students take away the understanding that we are all unique, but also connected in more ways than we realize,” said Meg Farrell, an English teacher at Mexico High School. “We hope they take away a deeper understanding of kindness, compassion and acceptance.”

Chain Reaction is run through Rachel’s Challenge, an organization created in Scott’s honor to reduce violence and promote kindness. The program, which takes place throughout an entire school day, has a high-energy atmosphere with several activities in which youth and adult participants are guided through a series of experiential learning processes.

Freshman and sophomores from Mexico High School participated in the program Sept. 12, with juniors and seniors the following day. Student participation in the event was voluntary, and more than 200 chose to take part between the two days.

Cody Hodges and Meichelle Gibson, who both work for Rachel’s Challenge, guided the sessions in Mexico. Hodges is a former NCAA Division I quarterback for Texas Tech, while Gibson is a songwriter and published author.

Farrell and fellow English teacher Kim Halligan co-advise the school’s Friends of Rachel Club, which inspires and promotes acts of kindness, tolerance and compassion in school and the community. The club holds fundraising and community service events throughout the year, having raised close to $400 for Operation Reindeer, a local event that provides toys and presents to children during the holiday season.

Students interesting in joining the Friends of Rachel Club can reach out to Farrell or Halligan for more information.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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