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A powerful message about bullying
By GREG PECK ( Contact ) Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 12:11 p.m.
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I remember those days growing up in the Dane County village of Marshall and how some of my grade
school classmates picked on one girl mercilessly. Remarkably, she overcame that bullying and has
joined her fellow graduates to celebrate and mark our class reunions.
I think of those days when I read stories about bullying and people such as Rachel Scott who aspire to
stop it. She was the first student gunned down in the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in
Littleton, Colo.
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Her passion has spurred family members and friends to give presentations at thousands of schools
nationwide to spread Rachel’s story and message of tolerance. She had been keeping a journal with a
simple but ambitious plan—to improve the world through a chain reaction of kindness and
compassion. Ironically, one of the bullets fired at Rachel penetrated her journal, reporter Neil Johnson
explains in today’s Gazette. On Wednesday, Dave Gamache presented "Rachel’s Challenge" to
Milton High School students.
I was left hopeful by the words of Milton guidance counselor Michelle Kurilla, who was “stunned” by
the response of students Wednesday. She said the presentation seemed to leave them spellbound.
“I’ve never been in an assembly where the students have sat still and sat completely quiet that long,”
she told Johnson.
A large picture on the front page shows Gamache raising his hand to ask which students will accept
Rachel’s Challenge. The five-step challenge?
1. Look for the best in others.
2. Dream big.
3. Choose positive influences.
4. Speak with kindness.
5. Start your own chain reaction.
Those steps seem so simple, so easy. Yet they can have a profound effect on those around us. So can
bullying. I hope we can follow up and again interview Kurilla a month or two from now to see if she
senses that students are carrying out Rachel’s Challenge.
And starting this new school year, I hope students reading this, even those who didn’t get a chance to
hear Gamache’s talk, will consider and heed Rachel’s Challenge.
Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or [email protected] Or follow him on Twitter or
Facebook
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