Rachel’s Challenge Club seeks to spread kindness

Lily Tran, Feature Editor

High school has a bad reputation. Movies and television shows always depict high school as cliquey, dramatic, and full of mean girls desperate to maintain their spot on the top of the social hierarchy. But one the worst features shown in both film and reality is bullying.

Bear Creek English teacher Debbie Dutra started a Rachel’s Challenge club to battle negativity in school, with the goal of spreading kindness throughout the school and into the community.

“When I started teaching here, I kind of noticed that the climate on campus was a little bit less than positive,” Dutra said. Lack of positivity manifests into tension between students, and sometimes violence.

The club meets on Fridays after school. Participants enjoy snacks and discuss the background behind Rachel’s Challenge and their goals for the program. The club isn’t necessarily an anti-bullying campaign, but more of an effort to inspire positivity in others.

“I joined [the Rachel’s Challenge club] because I noticed there were a lot of fights,” freshman Alejandra Davila said. “I think it’s really amazing to try and put kindness into someone or something so that it brings us all together.”

The club is centered on a prompt from Columbine shooting victim Rachel Scott. She was the first student to die when two males went on a shooting rampage, killing 13 people before taking their own lives.

“I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same,” Scott said in an essay. “People will never know how far a little kindness can go.”

Scott’s message is used as the guiding philosophy for the club.

“Our goal is to change the climate on campus,” Dutra said. “I’m hoping it’s going to have kids want to change themselves from within. When that happens, it will change the climate on campus overall and then hopefully start a chain reaction in the community.”

Members have their own individual goals for participating in the club, but all goals carry the underlying moral of spreading kindness throughout the school and beyond.

“My goal is to have a better community,” senior Harminderjeet Kaur said. “Even though this campus is so diverse and welcoming, there is still that lack of kindness with each other.”

“I’m going to start my chain reaction by being nicer to people and encouraging kinder behavior,” Davila said.

And for those struggling with starting that first act of kindness, simple is best.

“Help anyone who’s in trouble or lost or something,” Kaur said. “Simply opening the door for someone can help start that act of kindness.”

But even these personal methods can be undermined by social interactions that happen online. Cyber bullying is one form of bullying that is more common, especially with recent technological developments. Social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter give potential bullies opportunities to put others down virtually.

Programs like AT&T’s Later Haters have been started to battle cyber bullying. Later Haters’ objective is to shut down online trolls and block hating and shaming on social media. Teens post with the hashtag #laterhaters and encourage positivity.

Other movements like the Sandy Hook Promise’s “Evan” video distract viewers with a love story to bring awareness of students who are marginalized, ignored or troubled. The message is that noticing the little things can have a big impact on people and how others act.

“My codes may seem like a fantasy that can never be reached, but test them for yourself, and see the kind of effect they have in the lives of people around you,” Scott wrote. “You may just start a chain reaction.”