Almost every seat in Stone Bridge High School's auditorium was filled, but the audience sat in complete silence as they listened to Craig Scott tell the story of the last time he saw his sister, Rachel Joy Scott, the first student killed in the April 20, 1999, Columbine High School shootings.
They were in the car on the way to school, having what Scott called a typical brother and sister fight.
"When we got to school I got out of the car and slammed the door on her," he said. "I turned around and walked into school never knowing that would be the last time I saw her."
SCOTT TOLD the audience it took the tragedy for him to learn how important it was to take care of those you love.
"Rachel understood one word very well. And that word was compassion," Scott told the audience. "The thing she most cared about in this world was relationships."
Students and parents from across Loudoun County attended the presentation of Rachel's Challenge at Stone Bridge, Monday, Sept. 25. Although Scott had spoken at two assemblies during school Monday, students came back at 7 p.m. with their parents to hear Scott speak again.
"It is pretty powerful," James Person, Stone Bridge's principal, said. "Particularly as I walk around and listen to the conversations."
Rachel's Challenge was started as a way to pass on the codes of life that Rachel Scott lived by. Her family hopes to encourage teens and parents to reach out to the people around them in order to create a more positive future.
"We are here picking up the legacy, picking up the torch she dropped and carrying on this message of compassion," Scott, Rachel's younger brother, said.
BASED ON both Rachel's life and an essay she wrote entitled, "My Ethics, My Way of Life," the program challenges students to eliminate prejudice by looking for the best in others, having integrity, setting goals for themselves, choosing positive influences in their lives and doing small acts of kindness for others.
Scott said the world was in dire need of compassion.
"Rachel's story is proof that the little things we do can have a huge impact on the world," he said.
Following the three presentations, students were encouraged to sign their name to a banner that hung in Stone Bridge's main hallway. The banner read, "I Accept Rachel's Challenge."
Twenty minutes after the first assembly, the banner was covered in names.
"That is inspiring to me," Scott said. "We have to remember that sometimes out children can inspire us."
Scott was scheduled to visit Park View High School in Sterling Tuesday, Sept. 26.