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'Dare to dream'

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Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2007 10:00 pm

Rachel Scott, a student at Columbine High School during the 1999 shooting, was shot and killed during the rampage as she ate lunch with her friend.

Shortly after her death, her parents found one of their daughter's many scrawlings on the back of a clothes dresser.

Within outlines of both her hands, Rachel Scott wrote these words: "These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will someday touch millions of people's hearts."

Those hands touched the hearts of Tokay High School students Wednesday as Columbine survivor Nicole Nowlen, 25, shared Rachel's life of kindness and compassion at an assembly called Rachel's Challenge.

Although Nowlen never knew Rachel Scott, she too suffered the consequences of the vicious attacks carried out by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

During the shooting, Nowlen hid under a table in the library, holding the hand of student John Tomlin. Nowlen left the school's library with nine pieces of buckshot lodged in her body. Tomlin died trying to crawl to safety.

Now, Nowlen travels the country sharing her story and asking students to accept Rachel Scott's challenge to treat others with kindness.

The presentation was held three times at Tokay High on Wednesday - twice for students, once for parents - and it will be held again today at McNair High School. The five presentations cost the district $3,700.

Seniors Hillary Schrock, Korina King and Zack Schallberger, all 17, said the assembly opened their eyes to what can happen when people aren't nice to each other.

Tokay High senior Brandon Ku, 17, thanks Nicole Nowlen on Wednesday morning, for giving a presentation at Tokay High School about Rachel Joy Scott, a student who died during the Columbine shootings. (Brian Feulner/News-Sentinel)

"Because you don't think about it when you're doing it," Schrock said.

After a video depicting graphic images of the shooting, including school books surrounded by blood, Nowlen told the story of Rachel's brother Craig Scott, who was also in the library during the shooting. Not only did Craig Scott lose his sister, passing her body as he escaped through the school's west entrance, he lost the two friends, Isaiah Shoels and Matthew Kechter, with whom he was hiding under a group of tables.

In a video of an interview with Craig Scott shown at the presentation, he remembers the shooters taunting Shoels with racial slurs before killing him, and laments the fact that those slurs were one of the last things his friend heard.

After the story, Nowlen dared students to accept Rachel's first challenge to "look for the best in others," something Rachel wrote about.

"I do believe that what goes around comes around," Nowlen said before asking students to try out the practice for the next 30 days.

Next, Nowlen introduced Rachel's second challenge: "Dare to dream. Write down goals. Keep a journal."

During her life, Rachel kept a total of six journals in which she wrote about her goals and dreams of reaching others through kindness.

Rachel's parents recovered two of those journals, one of which has a hole in it from where it was hit by a bullet, from her backpack after she was killed.

During her presentation, Columbine High School shooting survivor Nicole Nowlen told the story of a drawing found in the journal of Rachel Scott, who was killed by the shooters as she ate lunch near the school's west entrance.
After the shooting a man from Ohio called Rachel's father Darrell Scott and said that he kept having this dream of Rachel crying. However, in his dream, when her tears fell, plants started to grow out of the ground.
The man asked Darrell Scott if the dream meant anything to him. Darrell Scott said "no," but the man insisted that he write down his phone number in case something came up.
A few days later, Darrell Scott went to pick up his fallen daughter's backpack at the sheriff's office. Inside he found her journal.
He flipped to the back page and found a drawing that his daughter had doodled just hours before her death.
The drawing depicts two eyes crying 13 tear drops, the number of people killed at Columbine High on April 20, the day of the massacre.
As the drops fall they turn into a darker color - which Nowlen says represents blood - and fall onto a rose.
Another drawing found in Rachel's journal shows a similar rose growing out of a flower of a Columbine plant.
- News-Sentinel staff.
Those who support Rachel Scott's message can purchase a variety of items at http://www.rachelschallenge.com:
• Bracelets printed with the phrases "Chain Reaction" and "Rachel's Challenge" - $3
• Chain Reaction Journal, a book that contains some of Rachel's artwork and quotes - $10
• Chain Reaction T-shirt, an American Apparel brand T-shirt with the words "You just may start a chain reaction" printed on it - $20
• Kindness Hoodie, an American Apparel brand hoodie that depicts how Rachel's message is spreading kindness across the country - $35
• Backpack and Luggage Tags with Rachel's picture and the words "I won't be labeled as average" printed on them - $3
- http://www.rachelschallenge.com.

Nowlen often compared Rachel to Anne Frank, another young, idealistic woman who kept journals and was killed when she was a teenager.

Nowlen quoted a study done by researchers at Harvard University, who said people who write down their goals are 10 times more likely to accomplish them than people who don't.

Next, Nowlen presented Rachel's third and fourth challenges: "Choose positive influences" and use "kind words."

During her life, Rachel influenced many people's lives through kindness, Nowlen said.

Once she stepped in front of a group of bullies hassling a disabled student.

"If you touch him again you'll have to go through me," she said.

Another time she brought her friends to a lunch table where a girl new to Columbine High was eating alone.

Nowlen asked Tokay High students to remember these acts of kindness as they live their lives.

"You can make a difference by just being kind to somebody," Nowlen said.

Lastly, Nowlen presented Rachel's fifth challenge: "Start a chain reaction" by talking to those who are truly important to you.

"My hope is that you will want to be an impact on the world just as she has," Nowlen said.

As the presentation ended, Principal Erik Sandstrom took the microphone.

"Everyone has seen this presentation today. Imagine if everyone accepts this challenge," Sandstrom said.

After students were dismissed, several stayed to talk to Nowlen. One of those students was senior Brandon Ku, 17.

Ku said he's seen a lot of presentations in his student career, but for some reason this one stood out.

Ku feels that in today's society, people are too focused on themselves and don't think of others often enough.

"As long as you can affect one person in some sort of way, you've done something good," Ku said.

Contact reporter Amanda Dyer at amandad@lodinews.com.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • posted at 10:13 am on Wed, Dec 5, 2007.


    that is sad, because that girl wuz kind, sweet, innocent. and not only that,she had a true, future goal, which is, from whut i heard, she wanted 2 B an actress. if you r so upset at someone, and you decide to kill that person, you betta think twice B4 you do so, and try to find a betta way to handle, or ignore the situation. because then innocent people, ends up gettin hurt or killed. and because she was killed, her dream wuz ruined! KILLING DOESNT SOLVE ANYTHING!

  • posted at 8:09 pm on Sat, Dec 1, 2007.


    Taxpayer (the one that can spell---due to Spellcheck!)... You are an ignorant fool. You must have been one of those kids that did all the bullying in school, huh? Grow up. You're not in high school anymore and you still don't have a clue. Sad.

  • posted at 5:11 am on Sat, Dec 1, 2007.


    There was more than that. Yes, that was the biggest lesson, but she never said that was the ONE reason they did it. She also talked about the negative stuff they put in to their minds with violent video games. She also made the point that THAT wasn't the ONE thing that caused it either. It was a mix of things. This is why she had FOUR lessons in her presentation. Besides...even if that was the ONLY lesson, why shouldn't kids learn to be nicer to each other?

  • posted at 4:19 pm on Fri, Nov 30, 2007.


    This one woman does not get to keep all $3700. It costs money for her to travel, as well as lodging and food. It included 5 speaking engagements as well as training sessions with a smaller group of students at each school. It includes a character education curriculum, something that doesn't get focused on in todays test-driven culture. She's not some greedy beggar trying to profit off of a tragedy. She's trying to prevent future tragedies. It was a powerful presentation and well worth the money spent. My students are still talking about it.

  • posted at 11:47 am on Fri, Nov 30, 2007.


    Well, life is too short. I remember being five years old like yesterday, and now my 18th is upcoming in less than two months already. I am going to CSU Northridge in July. Time goes by too fast. I want you to keep in mind: say "I love you" and spend as much as time as possible with your family and friends, people you love. Make unforgettable memories because time will be gone before you know it.

  • posted at 3:49 pm on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    (cont) I just wonder if you had any child there in the crowd? or are all you children, if you have any, are grown and gone. Maybe you dont have a child in the shcools at all and feel that your 'tax dollars' should go to what, lining the pockets of the employees at the top of the food chain, instead of teaching children any way that gets the point across to st least one student. that would be better than shooting up the school and causing the loss of any lives. God Bless you Nicole.

  • posted at 3:48 pm on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    Out of all of the presentations I've seen during my school years, this one was by far the most impacting, thought provoking assembly I've ever seen. To the girls who were making fun of Nicole, that is EXACTLY what Rachel wanted to get rid of! I certainly hope you didn't sign that banner during lunch. Most of my friends were crying when we saw this (including some guys). It really opened my eyes and made me realize, we -could- die at anytime. So we need to make the most out of life and care for our friends and family.

  • posted at 3:42 pm on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    You just showed all who read the comments just how heartless people are in Lodi. lets do the math, $3700 for 5 speeches equals $740.00 each. Just try adn get any speaker for that little money and see just what answers your request. maybe you should stop being so worried about the money and see just what this young girl has to say to the children of Lodi Schools. If what she said changees just one student would the cost be worth it?

  • posted at 3:00 pm on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    It sounds like the lesson was: "This tragedy was caused because people picked on those two boys too much." I don't agree with that assessment of the situation in Columbine. It was a cold calculated slaughter, perpetrated by two psychopaths. Teasing and bullying are a real problem, but that cannot be the only reason for the massacre.

  • posted at 2:17 pm on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    It's seems like some of you feel white people should be ashaned to be white.

  • posted at 2:16 pm on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    Samantha, Tokay senior: Unfortunately, Samantha, some people will never change and become kind, tolerant or educated. That's a very sad fact.

  • posted at 2:06 pm on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    Ashamed: Those students should have been escorted out, parents called and then sent home. That should not have been tolerated for one minute.

  • posted at 11:41 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    (More) Sure, I can't hear, but I don't even view myself as a deaf person. I view myself as a normal functional person without the ability to hear, that's all. Everything else I act, think, and function exactly like any other hearing person. I have known some Tokay students ever since fourth grade. That's eight years, and some of them hasn't changed their attitude or treatment of me even a bit. Eight years and nothing changes. It's about time that the public get educated about tolerance and kindness.

  • posted at 11:39 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    I attended the presentation yesterday and honestly, I feel very grateful for Nowlen to have come. There is a meaningful lesson to be learnt. Born deaf myself, I grew up in the normal hearing world. I can personally attest to the countless times that I've been taunted, teased, condescended upon, mocked, etc. all because of a plain trait that is part of who I am.

  • posted at 9:54 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    You're one of those parents, aren't you. Lily white Lodi. LOL

  • posted at 9:03 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    What a sad story. I cannot imagine the horror that this girl witnessed that day in the library. But I guess $3700 a day makes it worth retelling the story. As a taxpayer, I am concerned about the financial cost to the district. I am sure the presentation was great, but $3700 a day?

  • posted at 8:55 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    Ive read your foolish comments for so long and I'm always amazed when you top yourself with another goofy thought.

  • posted at 8:04 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    My son invited me to the presentation last night and I am so glad we went, especially together. It was very powerful. (I cried - how can you not?) Sounds to me that some of you people should have been there as well - and actually listened to what Nicole had to say! Treat others with kindness - that was the message. We can ALL learn from that.

  • posted at 7:41 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    When I got home from work last night, I was greeted with a long hug and kiss. My son told me how much he loved me and was sorry. I was shocked as he is almose 18 years old. I asked him why such a sudden display of affection. He told me that we could all die at any time, and we should appreciate our loved ones. THANK YOU for having this wonderful speaker, we need more of them!

  • posted at 7:29 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    I am totally offended! Becausae I am PROUD to be white does not make me a racist. What is the difference of an African American being proud to be black or a Hispanic being proud to be Mexican? Why is it that it is okay for other races to show pride, but when a white person does it, it is racist?

  • posted at 7:13 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    i like it

  • posted at 5:55 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    Couldn't have been those non-racist little white kids, could it?I could imagine the nice remarks from livable, lovable lily white Lodians if she were a minority. These kids get it from their own parents, some of whom sit on council and management seats right here in your lovely racist town.

  • posted at 5:16 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    Note from Editor Rich Hanner to Ashamed. I understand your concern and you may have information that would be useful to us. Please call to discuss; I will also explain why we can't post your comments at this time. My number is 369-7035. Thank you.

  • posted at 5:15 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    students that were mocking Ms. Nowlen, wake up. It's because of people like you that "different" students have complexes. Let's see how those girls look and act after they have been through a horrific incident in their lives. Shame on you, we are all human beings, be kind, the different ones may turn out to be the best friend you ever had.

  • posted at 3:46 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    I attended an Every 15 Minutes presentation one year and there were some girls making fun and saying stuff like "Oooo she's dead they said, but I saw her in class this morning.... It's so stupid." The fact is some young adults grow up slower than others. I just hope none of these young "ladies" ever have to face anything like this.

  • posted at 3:12 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    The fact that you are even blogging about that incident is ridiculous. What's the matter with you. The whole world does not need to know that there were some high school girls making fun of the speaker for her weight and appearance...... Why would you even post something like that? You have no tact.

  • posted at 1:35 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    My son attended this presentation and said that while Nicole Nowlen was speaking, there were several Tokay girls mocking her for her "weight" and criticizing her as being "ugly". They also made comments about how "this couldn't really happen". So apparently while a serious lesson was being taught, there were students who obviously weren't getting the message.



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