Lugoff, SC (WLTX) - For some kids, the school day is a daunting obstacle. It's one where they feel alone, picked on or ignored. But for one Midlands school, that inner circle got quite a bit larger Monday - to include everyone - through a national program called Rachel's Challenge.
And Monday night, parents and the community were introduced to it.
"Even ignoring somebody can hurt someone's feelings and can be perceived as bullying," says teacher and parent Cari Meldrum. Adds 7th grader Tyrese Neale, "Everybody's been bullied at one time. And it's not a good feeling, so we just try to show that, and that we can be positive."
Explains Deputy Bob Evans, a School Resource Officer, "This is going to have these kids look out for their classmates, and look to help them out. And along the lines, there's nothing but positive that's going to come of that."
Evans has been the SRO at Lugoff-Elgin Middle for the past five years. He was instrumental in bringing the Rachel's Challenge program here, after learning about it on a television special about Columbine High School.
Mike Hills, a Rachel's Challenge presenter explains the background to the crowd, "Rachel Scott was a 17-year-old junior in high school, known above all else for being kind and compassionate. She was sitting outside the school doors on the first warm Spring day on April 20, 1999, when bullets tragically took her life, making her the first victim of the Columbine High School shooting."
Since then, Rachel's writings have led her family to challenge schools and groups across the nation to create a chain reaction of kindness. As Hills tells the group, "Look for the best in others around you, and we all can eliminate prejudice together."
Her story is a moving one and Evans knows that it will have a visible impact on his kids. "Single parent homes, troubles with siblings, there's a lot of kids whose parents have passed away," he says of some of the issues he sees everyday, "It can be life changing for kids this age. And seeing the struggles that kids have on a daily basis, this is what I really wanted to do to help bring those struggles out.">
Says 7th grader Raime Hastings, "I think it's good that we're doing this, so that maybe the kids that are getting picked on, this is making them feel like they're the best thing in the world."
As a part of the program, Lugoff-Elgin Middle now has a kindness club called "Friends of Rachel" that promotes good deeds.