Columbine survivor: Kindness can change world

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Clovis High School Freshman Academy students signed a banner declaring they accept Rachel’s Challenge of being kind to each other.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

The nearly 600 students were silent, most with tears glistening in their eyes, as they watched footage from the Columbine shooting flash across the screen.

Clovis High School Freshman Academy students gathered in the gym Tuesday morning for a Rachel’s Challenge Rally. Rachel Scott was the first student killed at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999.

Scott believed kindness and compassion could change the world. Her message has been taken on the road around the world in the hope of changing the way people treat one another.

Columbine survivor Nicole Nowlen spoke to Clovis students from experience. She was one of the students injured that day, suffering buckshot wounds in her right side.

Nowlen spoke of creating a chain reaction of kindness.

Principal Diane Russell was pleased with the number of students who stayed after the rally to hear about joining the Friends of Rachel Club. She estimated about 75 percent stayed.

Russell said students in the club will be guided by a committee of teachers. Lessons about being kind to each other will also be incorporated in career and social studies classes, Russell said.

Student Jacee Isler said she was glad the rally came to her school.

“It is an important fact that people need to be kind to each other,” the 15-year-old said. “It can go far in life.”

Isler, a volleyball player, said she was touched when the group learned Rachel was kind to a student who had planned to commit suicide. Rachel’s kindness changed his mind.

“If you are kind to someone, you can make them feel important,” she said.

Student Kristin Bradley, 14, said she hopes the program helps the school.

“I think it’ll help our school be more kind to each other,” Bradley said.

Both students joined the Friends of Rachel club and have visions of projects affecting people outside school.

Isler and Bradley talked about the possibility of 60 students raising $25 each, which could feed children in Haiti for a year; or signing a kindness card, which is passed person-to-person when an act of kindness has been committed.

“Mostly, when I see all the video of Columbine, I feel how lucky we are compared to people in other countries that don’t have food and families that lose kids like Rachel,” Isler said.

On the ‘Net

rachelschallenge.org

Rachel’s Challenge Rallies in Clovis

Today

• 9 a.m. — Clovis High School gym

• 1 p.m. — Yucca Middle School main gym

Thursday

• 9 a.m. — Marshall Middle School auditorium

• 6:30 p.m. — Rachel’s Challenge Rally for the community, Marshall Middle School auditorium