MARCUS - Marcus High School gym was filled with students, grades six through 12, early Friday morning. They were there to learn better ways to respond to daily situations while helping each other and making life more pleasant.
Renae Ogren has served several years as guidance counselor bringing fresh ideas to assist teens down through the road of life. She came across the program called "Rachel's Challenge" of Colorado which was formulated after the Columbine High School shooting when 12 students and one teacher were killed, plus 27 wounded by a couple of teens with mistaken values and messed-up heads. Ogren got in touch with that organization which sent a presenter from the group to Marcus.
Ogren also got in touch with a niece, energetic Shelly Ogren who graduated from MMC, a daughter of Ken and Kate Ogren. Shelly had presented an emotional program pulling at the heart-strings of her Marcus Fair listeners as she shared her experiences and association with a faith-based group in Phoenix which helps the less fortunate. Shelly wrote a couple of poems which speaks of a young woman she met who has felt nothing but physical and emotional pain throughout her life. Shelly became involved with a group who is making a change in many people's life in south Phoenix just by reaching out and helping with some basics. Shelly shows her Christian love for Christ by caring for others and devotion through her speaking engagements. She has a successful career with the FIDC but takes time out to aid the cause. She is hoping others will do likewise.
Rachel Closs held onto the student's attention that Ogren had built up. She shared the statistics of that horrible day in Columbine through film and related personal stories about Rachel Joy Scott, first student killed on that day, along with her brother and other school personnel. That day started a chain reaction which is growing longer by the month and years. Rachel's Challenge was started because of someone's pain and a reaction to that pain by offering hope.
There are five points to the program. The first thing to do is to look inside of yourself and ask yourself the question, "Do you prejudge others by their clothes, attitude or color of skin and so forth?" Most of us are guilty of that as we go with first impressions. The idea of this program is to give folks at least three chances and look into their eyes to try to see the best that is in them. Think of how you would like to be treated and do the same.
The second part of this program came about because Rachel Scott did not want to be labeled as average. She believed in pursuing her dream. So number two on the list is to pursue your dream of what you want out of life which is noted as "Dare to Dream". To do this, one should keep a list of goals and a journal to track your dream.
Number three is to choose to have a positive influence on those people around you who are disabled or new to the area or school or are picked on and put down. Become their friend by saying a kind word to them.
Number four is do be kind to others. Even the little acts of kind deeds can achieve huge results by making someone's day much more pleasant. Life has it's ups and downs. You may fall a few times but don't give up.
The last items, number five is to start a chain of reaction based on forgiveness and love. Closs recommended that you list the 10 most loved, closest people to you and take the time to tell each what they mean to you. Do this as soon as you can because we can never take for granted that we will have another day to do it.
By doing these five items, students will belong to the FOR Club standing for "Friends of Rachel" which will mean you are a person who has compassion, kindness, respect, willing to help others, work to making one's school and community a better place.
In short, Rachel's Challenge is about people spreading kindness as you will never know just how far it can take someone and that person gives kindness to the next one and so forth. It is simple and can work if people just try to think of the other persons' feelings.