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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Speaker challenges students

  • In 1999, Rachel Scott was the first of 12 students killed in shootings that also claimed the life of a teacher at Columbine High School in Colorado.
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  • In 1999, Rachel Scott was the first of 12 students killed in shootings that also claimed the life of a teacher at Columbine High School in Colorado.
    And Scott's story was brought to students at West Intermediate School Tuesday morning during an assembly. The fifth- and sixth-graders at the Leavenworth intermediate school also were presented with five challenges.
    "Rachel's life has touched millions of people all over the world," said Meichelle Gibson, a speaker for the program Rachel's Challenge.
    Gibson is in Leavenworth this week to speak at three schools. She also spoke Tuesday night during a bullying awareness community event at Leavenworth High School.
    The Rachel's Challenge program was started by Scott's parents. The challenges presented to students Tuesday were based on Scott's life and the writings she left behind.
    Gibson's visit is being hosted by the Leavenworth public schools. Ben Boothe, director of secondary education for the school district, said the program is designed to equip students with skills necessary to to stand up to bullying and create a culture of kindness and compassion.
    Boothe said Superintendent Kelly Crane wrote a grant to pay to bring the program to Leavenworth. The grant was awarded by the Leavenworth Public Schools Education Foundation.
    In her writings, Scott encouraged people to dream and set goals, Gibson said.
    The first of five challenges Gibson presented to the West students was, "Dream big and believe in yourself."
    If Scott had been at the intermediate school Tuesday, she would have told students that things such as who their parents are and how rich or poor they are don't matter. What really matters is if the students can believe in themselves and believe they can make a difference in the world, Gibson said.
    "You have the power to make a really big difference in this world if you believe in yourself," the speaker said.
    The second challenge was, "Be kind to others."
    She asked the students to think about how they want the people they love the most to be treated. And she asked that the students treat others this way.
    Gibson told the students there is such a thing as positive gossip. And the third challenge was, "Practice positive gossip."
    The students were encouraged to practice saying good things about people when they're not around. Word of the nice comments eventually will reach the people who were the subject of the remarks. And in turn, they may say positive things about the students, Gibson said.
    All it may take, she said, is one smile, one kind word or one act of kindness to make a huge difference in a person's life.
    Page 2 of 2 - The fourth challenge was, "Show appreciation for those you love."
    Gibson asked the students to go to the people they love most during the next three days and tell them how much they mean to them.
    "I really want you to do this with your heart," she said.
    The final challenge was, "Be the answer."
    Gibson's presentation Tuesday morning was an all-school assembly. But in the afternoon, she met with a smaller group of the student body for a Friends of Rachel Club training.
    Gibson is scheduled to make another presentation today during an all-school assembly at Richard W. Warren Middle School and conduct training with students from the middle school.
    She will be making a presentation and training students Thursday at Leavenworth High School.
    Gibson said her assembly presentations for the middle school and high school students as well as the community would be somewhat different than the one she gave at West. That's because the presentations are tailored to different audiences.
    Boothe said about 100 students from each of the three schools were selected for the training. He said they're learning strategies and activities they can use with classmates to keep the momentum going. He said students who undergo the training also can visit the elementary schools in the district to mentor or train the younger students.

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