More than 15,000 students in eight area schools heard the message of Rachel Scott and are starting a chain reaction of kindness and compassion in their schools. Scott, the first victim in the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, had a theory – “If one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same.”

Inspired by her theory, journal writings and her life, Rachel’s family created the Rachel’s Challenge program to spread her powerful message and inspire people to start a chain reaction of kindness and compassion. Rachel’s Challenge is now the largest in-school assembly program in the country, seen by more than 12 million people, and it has been making a powerful impact at local schools.

“I can tell you that we rarely call an all-school assembly,” Rosemount High School principal John Wollersheim said, “This one was a quality program that we wanted to bring to our students.”

“I think the presentation today was one of the most powerful ones I have ever been to,” a Lakeville South High School teacher said.

“I would encourage all high schools to figure out a way to bring Rachel’s Challenge into their school,” Apple Valley High School principal Steve Degenaar said. “It is simply the best all-school assembly program that I have seen!”

“I have never had an actual hero before, but now for the first time in my life I have one,” one student said.

As part of its ongoing community involvement efforts, Dakota Electric Association sponsored the event at local schools. During the one-hour assembly, students heard from a speaker as they viewed a multimedia presentation based on Rachel’s life. The Friends of Rachel club provides training and materials to students all year to promote leadership and ongoing change at the schools.

“This program has a proven track record, and it is such a quality program, we wanted to help bring it to our local schools,” Greg Miller, Dakota Electric’s CEO, said.

The following schools held Rachel’s Challenge events this year: Apple Valley High School, Burnsville High School, Lakeville North High School, Lakeville South High School, Northfield High School, Rosemount High School and Rosemount Middle School. For more about Rachel’s Challenge, visit www.rachelschallenge.org.