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Rachel Joy Scott (August 5, 1981 – April 20, 1999) was the first victim of the Columbine High School massacre, which claimed the lives of 12 students, one teacher and the two perpetrators, in one of the deadliest high school shootings in United States history. She has since been the subject of several books and is the inspiration for Rachel's Challenge, a nationwide school outreach program for the prevention of teen violence, based on her life and writings.
BackgroundRachel Joy Scott was born on August 5, 1981, the third of five children of Darrell Scott (1949 - ) and Beth Nimmo. Her older sisters are Bethanee (1975 - ) and Dana (1976 - ) and her two younger brothers are Craig (1983 - ) and Mike (1984 - ). Her father had formerly pastored a church in Lakewood, Colorado, but left the ministry when the marriage ended in divorce in 1989. The following year, Beth and the children moved to the Littleton, Colorado area, where she remarried in 1995. Darrell Scott became a sales manager for a food company in the Denver area and had joint custody of the children with their mother. As a child, Rachel attended Governor's Ranch Elementary School, and subsequently Ken Caryl Middle School. Coincidentally, she knew Dylan Klebold since kindergarten, and Rachel remained in the same classes with Klebold until their deaths. They were both members of Columbine's theater production club. At the time of her death, the 17-year old Columbine High School senior was an aspiring writer and actress. She had the leading role in a student-written play. Described as a devout Christian by her mother, she was active as a youth group leader at Orchard Road Christian Center Church near Littleton and was known for her friendliness and compassionate nature. Rachel left behind six diaries and several essays about her belief in God and how she wanted to change the world through small acts of kindness.Shortly before her death, Rachel wrote an essay for school stating, “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.” Similarities have been noted between the journal Rachel kept and Anne Frank's famous diary.
See also Columbine High School massacre
Rachel was shot while eating lunch with a friend, Richard Castaldo, on the lawn outside the school's library. She was killed by Eric Harris with multiple gunshot wounds to her head, chest, arm, and leg. After the killings, her car was turned into a completely flower shrouded memorial in the adjacent Clement Park after being moved from the school's parking lot by grieving students. A long chain link fence was installed for mourners to attach teddy bears, letters and other gifts. Rachel's younger brother, Craig, was also at the school at the time of the shootout. He was in the library where most of the killings occurred and survived unharmed.
FuneralRachel Scott's funeral on April 24, 1999, was attended by more than 2,000 people and was televised throughout the nation. It was the most watched event on CNN up to that point, surpassing even the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. Roger Rosenblatt of Time magazine wrote in his commentary that her funeral was "... ineradicable because of the photograph of your bright and witty face, now sadly familiar to the country, and because of the loving and admiring testimonies of your family."
Rachel Joy Scott was posthumously awarded the 2001 National Kindness Award for Student of the Year by the Acts of Kindness Association. In 2006, the National Education Association (NEA) of New York awarded Darrell Scott and Rachel’s Challenge the Friend of Education Award. In June, 2009, Darrell Scott was selected in a nationwide vote of more than 750,000 baseball fans as the Colorado Rockies "All-Stars Among Us" winner, based on individual public service for his efforts in starting the Rachel's Challenge campaign. He was honored along with the other 29 winners representing all major league baseball teams as part of the pregame ceremonies at the 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 14, 2009.