Nearly 12 years after the Columbine High School Massacre (April 20, 1999), the compassionate memory of Rachel Joy Scott, the tragedy’s first victim, came to Joliet Rotary with the help of Joliet Township High School’s YESS (Youth Experiencing Success in School) program.

Kelli Bettenhausen, YESS program director and two students Tyler Ray and Jacava White spoke at a recent meeting about Rachel’s Challenge and the Friends of Rachel program at the high school. The program is based on a two-page Code of Ethics essay Scott wrote just a month before her death. In the essay Rachel said, "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."

Under the direction of Bettenhausen, Ray, White and other members of the Friends of Rachel program have also committed to promote kindness in the school and community by writing notes of thanks, welcoming new students, and committing to school and community outreach.

Rachel’s Challenge is a not-for-profit organization established by her father Darrell Scott after her death. It perpetuates Rachel’s example of kindness toward others through her actions, the contents of her six diaries and the Code of Ethics she wrote. The program has been called “one of the most life-changing school programs in America.” Rachel was 17-years-old when she was killed at Columbine along with 11 other students, one teacher and the two perpetrators.