Kirsten Mustain

Grove Sun Daily

Rachel’s Challenge will be presented to the Grove Community 7:00 Wednesday evening at the Grove Civic Center. Everyone is invited.

The program, aimed at bringing schools and communities together to put an end to school bullying, was funded by a grant from the Grove Educational Foundation for Excellence (GEFFE).

Craig Scott, brother of Rachel Scott - the first student killed at Columbine, will be visiting Grove to present the Rachel’s Challenge program.

A surviving victim of the Columbine tragedy himself, Craig Scott will make the presentation at the middle school Wednesday morning and at the Civic Center Wednesday night.

About 27 Grove Middle School students have joined the “Friends of Rachel” program, and will attend a special training session. The session will show them ways to keep the momentum of the Rachel’s Challenge presentation moving forward at their school.

Seventh Grader Joanna Inkelaar is one of those students.

Enthusiastic and brimming with ideas, Inkelaar explained what she hopes to do by becoming a “Friend of Rachel.”

“We’re working together to change the environment in our school,” she said. “We will get together on the second and fourth Monday of every month to discuss changes in the school and things we can do to help the community.”

One of the things the group will do, Inkelaar said, would be to help new students.

“We want to help them get to know our school and better, so they feel more welcome instead of just being put there and told, ‘okay, go,’” she said.

Inkelaar hopes to spread the message of Rachel’s Challenge to the larger Grove community, as well.

“Some of the empty buildings downtown are cracked and covered with vines,” she noted. “We would like to get permission from whomever owns them to let Friends of Rachel paint a mural on them.”

One of the ideas presented by Rachel’s Challenge that Inkelaar finds especially important is the “Chain Reaction.”

“It’s about starting a chain reaction of kindness throughout the school,” Inkelaar explained.

She said she would also like to raise money so that the Friends of Rachel could take trips to other area school and talk to them about the program.

In order to become part of the Friends of Rachel group, students wrote essays about Rachel’s Challenge.

Middle School Arts and Humanities Teacher Theresa Eyres said she hopes more students will write essays and join the group.

“We’d like to have more students take this much interest in the program,” she said.