Enumclaw School District gears up for kindness challenge

Much like its “What Book Are You Reading?” community literacy campaign, the Enumclaw School District hopes to start a chain reaction toward kindness and compassion with Rachel’s Challenge.

In the early 2000s, the district challenged its students and community to join forces to read more than 35 million minutes. Drop boxes for recording minutes were set up across Enumclaw and Black Diamond and program-related events packed the city’s stadium.

Superintendent Mike Nelson would like to see the same energy grab the district’s latest endeavor – Rachel’s Challenge.

Rachel Scott was the first person killed during Colorado’s Columbine High School massacre April 20, 1999. Her challenge, presented through her family, is to make permanent, positive, cultural changes in their schools and communities by accepting the challenge to start a chain reaction of kindness and compassion.

Before her death, Rachel wrote an essay titled “My Ethics, My Codes of Life.”

“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,” she wrote. “People will never know how far a little kindness can go.”

Her father, Darrell Scott, said  it wasn’t a theory, it was something Rachel had been practicing for years.

Her family also found, behind a dresser, a place where Rachel had outlined her hand prints and wrote, “These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will some day touch millions of people’s hearts.”

In the past 10 years, more than 11 million people have heard the story.

The White River district has had a Rachel’s Challenge program since 2008.

Nelson said Rachel’s Challenge fits with the district and state’s recently adopted harassment, intimidation and bullying policy.

He has put together a leadership team of Plateau area community leaders and students including Enumclaw Regional Healthcare Foundation Executive Director René Popke, St. Elizabeth Hospital Director of Patient Services Shelly Pricco, Linking Civility, Compassion and Kindness attorney Trip Hart, Enumclaw Youth and Family Service’s Ryan Oversby, Live to Forgive Ministries’ Jacyln VanHoof, Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce’s Tracey McCallum, Enumclaw High School counselor Necia Engebretsen, EHS leadership representative Tiffany Armstrong and EHS students Ryan Chynoweth, Michelle McKinlay, Sara Mongrain and Tyler Salsbury.

The program kicks off Sept. 1 with a staff presentation at Thunder Mountain Middle School, followed by an Enumclaw Regional Healthcare Foundation’s community summit. A Rachel’s Challenge presentation will take place at each of the district’s schools between Sept. 15-22 with a community presentation at EHS Sept. 22 and a Rachel’s Rally in the spring.

In other business, the board:

• accepted donations of $3,300 to Sunrise Elementary from the PTA for grade-level enhancements; $1,000 to EHS Crites Scholarship from Farwest Fabrication; and $2,500 to the Rachel’s Challenge program from Enumclaw Regional Healthcare Foundation.

• hired Westwood Elementary teacher Nicole Cline, Black Diamond teachers Nikki Lindberg and Charles Orser and Southwood Elementary teacher Laura Hauswirth.

• rehired Sunrise teachers Tiffany Iacobazzi, Travis Ives and Miranda Simacek; and half-time teachers Holly Beers-Bezon of Westwood, Erin Markquart of Southwood and Jill Forza of Black Diamond Elementary.

• additional contract for part-time teacher Barbara Sadler at Southwood.

• granted a leave of absence one-year hire contract for Dawn Hoyer at Thunder Mountain.

• accepted a leave of absence for EHS teacher Jennifer Planellas and halftime leave for Sunrise teachers Elisabeth Carlson and Shelly Henshaw.

• accepted the retirement of EHS teacher Eileen Stevens.

• accepted the resignation of EHS teacher Lori Patrick and Southwood teacher Faith Lindley.