Wylie students hear Columbine victim's story in anti-bullying campaign
ABILENE, Texas - Wylie High School is implementing an anti-bullying program for the first time, and the school is using a tragic tale to show the importance of stopping bullying. The program is called Rachel's challenge, and it's named for the first victim of the infamous Columbine High School shootings that occurred on April 20 1999. Rachel Joy Scott, who was only 17, was struck down in the prime of her life. Schools all over the country are using her story to tackle bullying. Students at Wylie High walked into the gym as if they were going to any other gathering. Once the presentation started, the tone in the room changed. Their expressions became serious. A presenter of Rachel's Challenge, Cody Hodges, said that her story didn't start after she died. "Rachel was a girl [who] believed one person could start a chain reaction of kindness," Hodges said. "As simple as that sounds, she lived her life that way. Eighteen years later, we're still telling her story." Hodges said thousands attended her funeral and it was even televised on CNN. He said students have been emotionally moved after learning about her story. Wylie senior Rachel Melnyk said she has a personal connection to her story. "It makes me see the bigger picture or more than I already did," Melnyk said. "It just makes me realize I need to reach out more, and given the fact that my name is Rachel too, I feel personally connected to the situation and to Rachel." Rachel's challenge is meant to make students feel welcome, and the goal is to put an end to bullying in schools. They want students to create a positive change and continue Rachel's legacy of kindness and compassion. "You have a story. We all have a story. Rachel's story didn't start the day she died. It was all those days leading up to it," Hodges said. "And now as a high school student, it's about our choices and our words and the way we treat people. We're writing a story every day, so let's think about the story we're writing now on. What chain reaction are you going to start?" The program has already been implemented at 1,200 schools and about 1.5 million students have heard Rachel's story.