Students expand spirit of giving back after participating in Rachel's Challenge
Kindness & Compassion (KC) Club at the Elementary School
Contact Cassandra Luthringer at (518) 695-3255, ext. 1142
Friends of Rachel (FOR) Club at the High School
Contact Carrie Bean at (518) 695-3255, ext. 2239
Earlier coverage of Rachel's Challenge activities
Schuylerville students and staff member have always
had a reputation for giving back to the local and global community, but
efforts to help neighbors near and far have ramped up significantly
after students participated in Rachel's Challenge programs in 2010. And,
thanks to the generous and exclusive support of The Fort Miller Group,
Inc., the district is able to continue its efforts.
What is Rachel's Challenge?
Inspired by Rachel Scott, the first person to die at Columbine High
School on April 20, 1999, Rachel's Challenge programs send a profound message about
acting with compassion and creating a culture of kindness in schools and
beyond. During presentations in the district, students (and parents) saw compelling
audio/video footage of Rachel’s life, as well as the Columbine
shootings. “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their
way and show compassion, it will start a chain reaction of the same.
People will never know how far a little kindness will go,” Rachel Scott
Audience members got a glimpse into how the 17-year-old lived by those words—sticking up for disabled peers who were picked on, sitting with students new to her school, etc. They came away from the programs knowing that one person can make a difference and inspired to create their own chain reaction of cultural change.
It’s estimated that Schuylerville students are joined by more than one million of their peers who have heard—and been positively impacted by—Rachel’s message. Locally, students in grades 3-12 participated in the program and many others have been inspired by their fellow students to join in ongoing efforts in the district through the Elementary School's Kindness & Compassion (KC) Club and the High School's Friends of Rachel (FOR) Club.
Elementary School's Kindness & Compassion (KC) Club
During the 2011-12 school year, members of the KC Club chose service projects to work on each month. The projects were related to the Elementary School Character Education Program's "theme word of the month." The themes related directly to Rachel Scott's messages and include: respect, integrity, citizenship, compassion, tolerance, commitment, responsibility, resilience and accomplishment. The KC Club had 150 members during the school year; here's a sampling of activities:
Hand-n-Hand for Haiti: KC Club members collected donations to help build a school in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. In just one day, $900 was raised. Click here to see an article on this initiative.
Pull-Tab Collection for Shriners Hospitals for Children: Building on the success of last year's collection efforts, KC Club once again collected the recyclable aluminum pull-tabs, which provide funds for medical equipment at Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Coupon Collections to benefit SAFER: KC Club members worked with the school community throughout the school year to collect coupons to be donated to the Schuylerville Area Food and Emergency Relief (SAFER).
New Students Breakfast: New students were welcomed into the district during a special breakfast held on November 9, 2012.
Mini Relay for Life: KC Club organized a Mini Relay for Life in spring 2011 to help raise funds for The American Cancer Society. Members raised $8,079 during the first year; these funds were generously matched by The Fort Miller Group, Inc. A similar event was held in spring 2012.
Letters to Santa for Make-A-Wish Foundation's Fundraiser: Macy's has teamed up with Santa to help the Make-A-Wish Foundation, an organization that grants wishes to seriously ill children. The KC Club participated in a local initiative started by Justice White, an 11-year-old from Greenwich who was born with a terminal liver and lung disease called Alpha-1. When Justice was five, she traveled to Disney World thanks to the Foundation. Today, she's collecting "I Wish For" letters to Santa; KC Club members are writing these letters and sending them along to Justice. For each letter collected, Macy's gives $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Letters to Staff: Students write letters thanking school district staff members for their dedication, hard work and positive influence.
Think Pink Day: The school community dressed in pink in recognition of the efforts of the American Cancer Society. Pink flowers were sold to as a fundraiser for the district's Relay for Life Team. This fundraiser is among numerous activities club members are involved with to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.
Welcome Bag: KC Club members have put together bags of goodies to welcome new students to the district. The bags contain gift cards for the school store, school supplies, a pamphlet describing local activities (bike trails, parks, events, etc.), maps, gifts and photos of the school.
Nike Reuse-a-Shoe Recycling Program: Worn out athletic shoes were collected for Nike's shoe drive. The shoes are broken down and recycled for use in a running tracks, basketball and tennis courts, as well as synthetic turf fields.
Adopt-a-Soldier & Letters to the Troops: Students collect food and personal care items for troops serving in the military and also write thank-you letters and create holiday greeting cards.
Animal Care: To recognize the character education theme of "responsibility," students are working on projects to help out animals, including holding a pet supply drive.
Hat and Mitten Drive: KC Club members collected hats and mittens to donate to local families in need.
Rebuild Gilboa Winter Clothing Drive: Students expressed an interest in helping their peers in the Gilboa-Conesville School District. Many of the students and their families in this district and in surrounding areas lost their homes and belongings after Hurricanes Irene and Lee swept through the region in August 2011. KC Club members collected clothing and donated it to the area families.
Dignity Policy: KC Club members will be contributing thoughts and feedback as the district develops its required anti-bullying policy and follow-up activities.
HIgh School's Friends of rachel (FOR) Club
The Friends of Rachel (FOR) Club organizes and hosts a variety of activities designed to carry on Rachel Scott's dedication to starting a chain reaction of kindness. Past and current activities include:
Babysitting Training Class: With assistance from a Stewart's Shops grant, the FOR Club iteamed up with the American Red Cross to offer a babysitter training course for 11- to 15-year-old students. This eight-hour training included infant/child first aid and CPR instruction and results in Red Cross certification.
Letters to Santa for Make-A-Wish Foundation's Fundraiser: Macy's has teamed up with Santa to help the Make-A-Wish Foundation, an organization that grants wishes to seriously ill children. The FOR Club participated in a local initiative started by Justice White, an 11-year-old from Greenwich who was born with a terminal liver and lung disease called Alpha-1. When Justice was five, she traveled to Disney World thanks to the Foundation. Today, she's collecting "I Wish For" letters to Santa; FOR Club members are writing these letters and sending them along to Justice. For each letter collected, Macy's gives $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Dance-a-Thon: FOR Club members were part of the High School's dance-a-thon, which raised funds to support the American Red Cross' Disaster Relief Fund. More than $4,000 was raised and FOR Club members presented at check to a Red Cross representative who visited the school. Click here to view a news article and photo.
Community Clean-Up: Students organized a community clean-up day in spring 2012. Projects included yard work for local residents who needed a little extra help.
Pull for Ronald McDonald House Charities: FOR Club members collected aluminum pull-tabs typically discarded from the tops of drink cans. The tabs were donated for recycling to Ronald McDonald House in Albany, a home away from home for families of seriously ill children. Recycled tabs bring in money for Ronald McDonald House operations.
Senior Class Community Project: Schuylerville seniors donned their gloves and armed themselves with rakes this fall as they helped clean up Fort Hardy Park, areas around Schuylerville Public Library and residents' yards throughout the community.
Elementary School Helper Program: FOR Club members in grades 9-12 volunteer their time during study halls and lunch to assist Elementary School teachers with work and student projects. More than a dozen volunteers help out in this program.
Winter Coat Drive: Students collected new and gently used winter coats for both adults and children. More than 140 coats were collected and distributed to local families and to the Economic Opportunity Council.
Adopt-a-Soldier & Letters to the Troops: FOR Club members collect food and personal care items for troops serving in the military in Iraq and Afghanistan.