The founder of Rachel's Challenge, Darrell Scott, will present at St. Johnsbury Academy's Fuller Hall on Tuesday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Rachel's Challenge is based on the writings and life of 17-year-old Rachel Scott, the first student killed at Columbine High School in 1999. Rachel's father and stepmother founded Rachel's Challenge soon after Rachel's death. The organization has shared Rachel's message of kindness and acceptance to over 21.5 million people, largely in presentations to middle and high schools.

According to their website, "Rachel's Challenge is a national non-profit organization dedicated to creating safe, connected school environments where learning and teaching are maximized. Based on the life and writing of Rachel Scott, the first victim of the Columbine tragedy in 1999, Rachel's Challenge provides a continual improvement process for schools designed to awaken the learner in every child. We motivate and equip students to start and sustain a chain reaction of kindness and compassion that transforms schools and communities."

Beth Choiniere, assistant head for Campus Life at the Academy, said, "This is a tremendous opportunity not only for our student body, but also for the larger community. When people work together to create an intentional culture of kindness and compassion by looking for the best in people, amazing things can happen. Rachel's message to dream big and to seek out positive influences in our lives hits at the very core of our mission at St. Johnsbury Academy. We will continue to foster these ideals most specifically in our advisor and mentor programs. As a school community, we aspire to lead a chain reaction that stretches well beyond our school."

SJA Headmaster, Tom Lovett, said, "We brought Rachel's Challenge to our school four years ago, and it had a powerful effect -- all but erasing discrimination, bullying and prejudice. Those messages helped hold us together as we took up Melissa Jenkins' Challenge of loving those the most who need it the most. Over the past few years, as we have gotten some distance from those events, we have felt we could use another boost to our culture of kindness and compassion. Having Rachel's father, the founder of Rachel's Challenge choose to come speak to us, is a real honor. He knows our school's story, and he is anxious to help us use Rachel's story and challenges to make our community even stronger. I really hope lots of community members turn out for the evening event."

For more information on Rachel's Challenge, please visit www.rachelschallenge.org.

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