Hudson Middle School builds unity through tragedy of Columbine

by Tim Troglen | reporter Published:

Hudson -- More than 14 years after two students at Colorado's Columbine High School shot and killed 12 classmates and a teacher, the legacy of the first victim killed continues to touch lives across the country.

On Feb. 15, the memory of Rachel Scott, 17, was alive at Hudson Middle School as students and staff members formed a human chain of high fives which greeted those entering the building.

The chain reaction of high fives was part of a series of programs and strategies, created by Rachel's family, based on her writings and drawings. The programs are designed to help students and adults combat bullying and deal with feelings of isolation.

In October the program visited Hudson City Schools, outlining the challenges and asking students to take responsibility to end bullying.

"It was one of the suggested activities -- as students entered the building we formed this human chain that went all the way around the first floor of the building giving high fives as students moved their way through it," Middle School Principal Chuck DiLauro said. "It built teamwork because everybody had to work together to build the chain and it made everyone feel good -- and it was a great way to start a Friday."

Other challenges include: look for the best in others; treat others the way you want to be treated; choose positive influences and speak words of kindness, DiLauro said. The chain reaction was organized by the school's Rachel's Challenge Club.

"Rachel's five challenges focuses on all the positive attributes we want to instill in our students," DiLauro said. "Having high five Friday planted the seed so we can grow into a more positive caring middle school community."

Both students and staff members "loved it," DiLauro added. The middle school will schedule future challenges as the year progresses, DiLauro said.

Kimberly Cockley, the school's seventh-grade principal, agreed.

"Our high five Friday was such a positive way to begin the day -- students were welcomed to the commons with friendship and enthusiasm," Cockley said. "Some enjoyed it so much they went through the chain five or six times."

Cockley called the event "an impactful, fun way to make a connection between our students and staff."

Each day 160,000 students do not go to school because they are bullied, teased and harassed, according to the Rachel's Challenge website. Rachel left a legacy of reaching out to those who were different, who were picked on by others, or who were new at her school, according to the website.

"I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same," Rachel wrote shortly before her death. "People will never know how far a little kindness can go."

Rachel's Challenge is a non-profit, non-political, non-religious organization based in Littleton, Colo.

For more information visit www.rachelschallenge.org/.

Email: ttroglen@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9435

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