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The Dartmouth
May 22, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Father of Columbine victim urges kindness

Darrell Scott, father of Columbine victim Rachel Joy Scott, challenged an emotional, standing-room only crowd to "start a chain reaction" with compassion and kindness yesterday evening. By sharing Rachel's story, Scott said he is continuing Rachel's clearly expressed aspirations to touch the lives of others.

The media, several religious groups and the minds and hearts of many Americans were particularly drawn to Rachel following the 1999 shootings because of her response to the sole question asked of her by one of the killers just prior to her death. Rachel was asked, "Do you believe in God?" and she responded, "You know I do."

Another student was just outside the school with Rachel at the time she was shot and heard this encounter. Rachel's funeral was aired on CNN and watched by the largest viewing audience in CNN history.

Darrell Scott has been telling Rachel's story for four years and has appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Oprah and Larry King Live. He has been featured in Time and Newsweek, has co-authored two novels and has spoken to millions across the country.

Scott conveyed Rachel's desire to reach out and touch the lives of others. These desires were evident not only in his daughter's actions, but also in her written words.

For an assignment due one month prior to the shootings, Rachel wrote a paper entitled "My Ethics: My Codes of Life." In that paper, Rachel wrote, 'trust, compassion, and beauty will make this world a better place to be in and this life a better one to live." She wrote that by reaching out to people with singular acts of compassion and kindness, anyone could start "a chain reaction."

Rachel clearly started a chain reaction in her school by reaching out to new, handicapped and ridiculed students, Scott said.

Scott commented on the prophetic nature of two of his daughter's assertions. Rachel believed that she would affect the lives of many and then die young. She expressed these beliefs to her friends and in several of her journal entries.

Rachel in fact wrote, "These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will someday touch millions of hearts."

David Berkowitz, commonly known as the serial killer Son of Sam, has been transformed by Rachel's message, Scott said. He has memorized every word of her paper, "My Ethics: My Codes of Life," and now performs 12 hours of community service daily within the confines of a maximum security prison.

Elton John, Chuck Norris, Miss America and super heavyweight lifter Shane Hamon have all also found inspiration in Rachel Scott.

With respect to the issue of violence within schools, Scott stressed that "The issue is not just guns; the issue is the hearts of our young people." He has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives on multiple occasions and expressed that belief, he said.

Scott referred to the Filene Auditorium audience -- comprised primarily of Dartmouth students -- as the "cream of the crop" and encouraged them to take action now. "Your degrees don't impress me, your job choices don't impress me, it's your hearts that impress me," Scott said.

Scott closed by asking all present to thank someone who has touched their lives and to forgive someone who has hurt them.