'Compassion chain' started by girl who died at Columbine High
School shootings, mall shootings. No one can be sure when their last day on Earth is.
Rachel Scott's dream was to be an actress. Reaching out to people with kindness and compassion was like second nature to her. Leaving a legacy is evident.
Scott was the first student killed in the Columbine School shootings April 20, 1999.
The White Earth Gang Resistance Education and Training Program hosted family representative Sarah Dornfield, who spoke with students, teachers, parents and the public last week about Scott's legacy and her challenge to everyone.
She brought along several news clippings of the deadliest school shooting in history -- including the 911 call and surveillance footage from inside the school as the two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, went on a killing spree -- and taped interviews with several family members, teachers and friends.
In a matter of 22 minutes, the two teens killed 12 students and one teacher before killing themselves.
Harris and Klebold planned to set off bombs in the cafeteria of the school and shoot students as they ran from the building. The bombs failed, and in a rage, the killers walked into the school and to the library, where they killed most of their victims.
That April day was the first warm day of the season and Scott and a friend decided to sit outside to eat lunch. She was the first shot as the boys entered the building. She was shot four times.
Although it was widely reported that one of the gunmen asked Scott if she believed in God, and when she replied "yes," he shot her, other reports say the student who gave that story later retracted it.
Inside the school, hearing what he thought were firecrackers, was Scott's younger brother, Craig Scott. In the video presentation, Craig Scott recounts the day, and how those first shots he thought were firecrackers were the shots killing his sister.
He was in the library, where a teacher was telling students to get under the tables when the shooting started -- which can be heard on the 911 call and surveillance footage. He was under a table with his two friends Matt and Isaiah, one of the few black students at Columbine High School.
"The last thing he heard in his life were racial slurs," Craig Scott said.
The gunmen shot Isaiah. They then made Matt stand and shot and killed him. They grabbed Craig to shoot him next but because of the gun smoke in the air, the sprinklers went off, distracting the gunmen, and ultimately saving Craig's life.
Rachel Scott's funeral was televised on CNN, and was the most viewed program on CNN ever.
Soon after Scott's death, her father and stepmother were going through her bedroom and came across an essay she had written for a class titled "My Ethics, My Codes of Life."
In the essay she wrote about her theory of a chain reaction of compassion. If one person was nice to another, it would cause a chain reaction and there would be more compassion in the world.
Scott's father found out later from police, at the same time his teenage daughter was writing about a compassionate chain reaction, Harris and Klebold were making a recording about the chain reaction their violence and killing would have.
There were several more interesting similarities surrounding Scott and her death.
Scott "idolized" Anne Frank, Dornfield explained, keeping journals as Anne Frank did. Idolizing Adolph Hitler -- Anne Frank's killer -- were the two teenage gunmen at Columbine. They chose Hitler's birthday for their shooting spree.
Scott always had a dream of becoming an actress. She was involved with school plays, and even as a little girl -- as shown on the home movies -- said she was going to impact the world and be a star. In a couple years, there will be a feature film released on Scott's life.
In a May 2, 1998, entry in her diary, Scott wrote, "This will be my last year, Lord." And she thanked Him for her time on earth. She had always told people she believed she'd die young.
Six weeks after his daughter's death, Darrell Scott received a phone call from an Ohio man he had never met. The man told Darrell he kept having a reoccurring dream of a sweet young girl crying and new life was growing out of her fallen tears.
The dream meant nothing to Darrell.
One week later, the police called Darrell and said he could come get Rachel's backpack from the day of the shooting. They had been holding it as evidence because the bullets that killed her had gone through to her backpack.
When he opened it up, he found a drawing his daughter had doodled in her diary about 15 minutes before her death. (Her teacher had witnessed the drawing in her class.) The drawing was a girl's eyes with tears running down the page over a rose blossoming.
The tears from the eyes numbered 13. There were 13 people killed that day.
Scott's legacy is alive and strong. From the Foundation for a Better Life commercials inspired by Scott, a senior class adopting one of Scott's writings to her cousin as their class motto, and in 2001 -- two years after her death -- she was awarded the National Kindness Award.
There are 30 books written on her life, two television documentaries and a short film. Chuck Norris dedicated his biography to Scott, and the Dave Matthews Band and Michel W. Smith -- along with many other celebrities -- have been involved with promoting Scott's chain reaction message.
Dornfield left the audience last week with four challenges, inspired by Scott.
-- Keep a journal.
-- Write a letter to three people you care about most and let them know how important they are.
-- Practice kindness. You never know what someone else is going through.
-- Go home and tell the people closest to you how much you love them.
More information on Rachel Scott and information on the books written about her life can be found at www.racheljoyscott.com.