Columbine evoked in Victims’ Rights Week

by Mark Millican

When Craig Scott heard what he thought were firecrackers at school he guessed it was just seniors playing pranks and didn’t know they were actually gun shots that had just taken the life of his older sister, Rachel Scott — and that in just minutes his two best friends sitting beside him in the library would also be dead.

The date was April 20, 1999, and it was the first warm day of the spring season at Littleton, Col., home of Columbine High School.

Craig would survive the worst school shooting in American history that left 12 students and one teacher dead, and see his sister’s legacy carried on in “Rachel’s Challenge: Start a Chain Reaction,” an organization that helps students cope with life’s challenges at the teenage level and has expanded internationally.

A Rachel’s Challenge representative spoke to over 100 people at the Performing Arts Center at Fannin County High School April 25 during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, observed in the Appalachian Judicial Circuit by the district attorney’s office. Daryn Jackson used a Powerpoint presentation and DVD clips featuring Craig Scott, and also Rachel’s father, Darrell Scott.

“Kids are dying to know that they matter,” said Darrell Scott, “and the magic of Rachel’s Challenge is that they can be something — and make a difference in someone else’s life.”

Jackson said Rachel had a heart for special needs kids — defending them when they were picked on — as well as new kids in school and those who were being bullied.

District Attorney Alison Sosebee said besides prosecuting crimes her office seeks “to see victims treated with fairness and integrity so they don’t get stigmatized twice.” She introduced several guests  in attendance, including Circuit Public Defender Michael Parham and East Ellijay Police Chief Larry Callahan.

Sosebee also recognized partners her office works with: school resource officers in the three-county circuit area, Court Appointed Special Advocates, the North Georgia Crisis Network and Appalachian Children’s Center.

Jackson went over the “five challenges” developed as part of Rachel’s Challenge: 1) Look for the best in others; 2) Dream big; 3) Choose positive influences; 4) Speak with kindness; and 5) Start your own chain reaction. She also spent the day Friday speaking with students in the Fannin school system.
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