Betty Ann Woodland
VAIL CO, Colorado

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March 8, 2013
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Society column: Vail Symposium brings Rachel's Challenge to community

Battle Mountain High School hosted the presentation of Rachel's Challenge, a school-based character development program inspired by the life and writing of Rachel Joy Scott, who was the first victim of the Columbine school shooting tragedy in 1999. Rachel's Challenge was created to equip and inspire people to replace acts of violence, bullying and negativity with acts of respect, kindness and compassion. Debbie Robbins was instrumental in organizing the program. "When I learned that Vail Symposium was bringing Rachel's Challenge to our Valley, I knew that I had to get involved," Robbins said. "I reached out to Principal Qualman at Battle Mountain High School and he didn't hesitate to dive right in."

Both Robbins and Qualman talked about how this year's senior class experienced the Rachel's Challenge program when they were freshmen and they were eager to help host it again. Together they rallied classmates, teachers, school staff and community leaders to attend the event and welcomed those from other schools as well.

"We hope that we raised awareness, opened a dialogue and can work together to start a chain reaction of kindness and compassion," Robbins said.

BMHS Student Council Advisor Ali O'Neil added, "In today's complex and demanding world, it is easy to lose sight of how valuable kindness and compassion are. Rachel's Challenge brings back a sense of humanity and appreciation for these simple but, often forgotten, principles."

Teacher and soccer coach Dave Cope summed up the program as "a powerful and important gut check to examine where we stand as a community."

It is a program that you must experience yourself to feel the full benefit. Many in the auditorium shed tears during the emotional and spiritual presentation. Rohn Robbins poignantly pointed out that, "Rachel's Challenge, by and through the person that was Rachel Scott, moves to change the world in a positive and proactive way."

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The VailDaily Updated Mar 8, 2013 05:53PM Published Mar 8, 2013 05:49PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.