DALLAS — Reaching out beyond its students, the Dallas School Board is striving to help enhance relationships throughout the community by hosting a free program called Rachel’s Challenge on Wednesday night.
Rachel’s Challenge is more than an anti-bullying program, said Jeffrey Shaver, Dallas High School principal. It is about developing the skills to replace the negativity which could lead to hostility, violence, and bullying with kindness, compassion and respect.
The program will be held earlier in the day for high school students. The evening event, held at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Dallas High School auditorium, is geared for families and children.
The program is based on the writings of Rachel Scott, the first student to be killed during the Columbine High School shooting in Columbine, Colo.
The powerfully emotional program was started by Scott’s father and step mother, Darrel and Sandy Scott, has been sweeping across the country with positive results, according to Shaver.
“They took a tragedy and turned it into something positive,” Shaver said.
The skills and lessons of Rachel’s Challenge can become valuable preventive tools against the violence and school shootings which seem to dominate the news headlines.
“Our school culture is pretty good,” Shaver said. “But we can always make it better.”
Skills developed thorough the program can be implemented in classrooms and applied throughout life, Shaver said.
“The program is appropriate for all ages,” he said. “It will pull at your heart strings, but is a new idea for hope and things to come.”
Earlier in the day, high school students will attend a separate showing of Rachel’s Challenge. This will serve as a stepping stone for a long-term program and club called The Friends of Rachel Club.
Shaver said already 150 students, out of 880, volunteered along with 15 staff members to be trained by the presenter. They will be trained on how to teach others the values of Rachel’s Challenge and in areas of conflict resolution.
Shaver said he first learned about the program through his children’s school in Wayne County.
“The schools in Wayne County embraced the program,” Shaver said. “It goes way beyond anti-bullying. It is ground breaking.”
With 1,400 seats available in the high school auditorium, Shaver hopes every one will be filled Wednesday night.
“So far, there has been a lot of curiosity and interest from the community,” he said.