An email from District 47 Superintendent Donn Mendoza:
Subject: Exciting Opportunity for District 47’s Middle School Students and Families
Dear District 47 Middle School Families:
The purpose for this correspondence is to inform you that all three District 47 middle schools will be hosting Rachel’s Challenge assemblies as well as an evening event in early October. Specifically, the dates are as follows:
- Bernotas Middle School- Wednesday, October 10th @ 8:00am- Students
- Lundahl Middle School- Thursday, October 11th @ 8:00am- Students
- Beardsley Middle School- Thursday, October 11th @ 1:00pm- Students
- Beardsley Middle School – Thursday, October 11th @ 7:00pm- Community Event for Parents and Community Members
As you are probably aware, bullying issues have received increased national attention in recent years-and rightfully so. The issue has become more prevalent across the country, but it is important to understand that it has been met with increasing local efforts by the schools and community to proactively eliminate bullying among our students and also assist you in your efforts as parents in positively shaping the character of our youth. McHenry County’s new regional superintendent of schools has been working with area districts to identify these programs and bring more light to the issue and our efforts.
To that end, we are writing to inform you of this exciting opportunity for our students, families and community members by way of Rachel’s Challenge which has reached over 17 million people since its inception.
For context, Rachel Scott was one of the unfortunate victims in the 1999 Columbine High School Tragedy. As per the website at www.rachelschallenge.org.
Each day 160,000 students do not go to school because they are bullied, teased and harassed. By turning the story of a tragic death at Columbine High School into a mission for change, Rachel’s Challenge is helping create safer learning environments and making a world-wide impact.
Rachel’s Challenge is a series of student empowering programs and strategies that equip students and adults to combat bullying and ally feelings of isolation and despair by creating a culture of kindness and compassion. The programs are based on the writings and life of 17 year-old Rachel Scott who was the first student killed at Columbine High School in 1999. Rachel left a legacy of reaching out to those who were different, who were picked on by others, or who were new at her school. Shortly before her death she wrote,
“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. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.”
Rachel’s Challenge was started by Rachel’s dad and stepmom, Darrell and Sandy Scott when they realized that the writings and drawings Rachel left not only had an impact on her friends and classmates, but also resonated with students around the world. Although Rachel was a typical teenager who even wrote about her “ups and downs,” she had a passion and conviction that she would someday change the world. The Scott family knew her story and passion had to be told to inspire others to make their world a better place.
The community event on October 11th at 7:00pm will serve as follow up to the assemblies. Families are invited to the evening presentation and we expect that other community leaders will be in attendance as well.
As not only the Superintendent of District 47 but also and perhaps even more importantly a parent of two District 47 students one of whom is of middle school age, I have always been impressed regarding the manner in which members of this community have consistently worked collaboratively to positively shape our youth.
This event is designed to build upon and support the rich tradition within this community of providing positive learning experiences for our children such that it has a lasting impact on them into adulthood.
In all of my 17 years as an educator, I have never experienced anything as powerful and as moving as the Rachel’s Challenge assembly I attended last year.
I am thrilled that Rachel’s Challenge is coming to District 47 and I certainly hope that you are able to join us in what I know will be a lasting and very impactful experience on the evening of October 11th. Should you have questions, please feel free to contact me at your convenience. You may also visit www.rachelschallenge.org.
Parents may choose to have their child forgo the assembly. If this is of interest to you, please contact the administrators of your middle school. Students of parents who choose this option will be provided an alternate building location in which to work during the assembly.
Donn P. Mendoza, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools