Rachel Scott

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For other people named Rachel Scott, see Rachel Scott (disambiguation).
Rachel Scott
Rachel Joy Scott.jpg
Rachel Scott in 1997
Born Rachel Joy Scott
(1981-08-05)August 5, 1981
Denver, Colorado, United States
Died April 20, 1999(1999-04-20) (aged 17)
Columbine, Colorado, United States
Cause of death
Gunshots by Eric David Harris
Resting place
Columbine Memorial Gardens at
Chapel Hill Cemetery, Littleton, Colorado, United States
39°35′56.00″N 104°56′43.01″W / 39.5988889°N 104.9452806°W / 39.5988889; -104.9452806Coordinates: 39°35′56.00″N 104°56′43.01″W / 39.5988889°N 104.9452806°W / 39.5988889; -104.9452806
Occupation Student, diarist
Known for Murder victim
Religion Christian
Parent(s) Darrell Scott (b. 1949)
Beth Nimmo (b. 1953)
Relatives Bethanee McCandless (b. 1975)
Dana Scott (b. 1976)
Craig Scott (b. 1983)
Mike Scott (b. 1984)

Rachel Joy Scott (August 5, 1981 – April 20, 1999) was an American student and the first murder victim of the Columbine High School massacre, which claimed the lives of 12 students and a teacher, as well as both perpetrators.

She has since been the subject of several books and is the inspiration for Rachel's Challenge, a nationwide school outreach program for the prevention of teen violence, based on her life and writings.


Rachel Joy Scott was born on August 5, 1981, in Denver, the third of five children of Darrell Scott (1949 – ) and Beth Nimmo (1953 – ). Her older sisters are Bethanee (1975 – ) and Dana (1976 – ) and her two younger brothers are Craig (1983 – ) and Mike (1984 – ). Her father had formerly pastored a church in Lakewood, Colorado. Rachel's parents divorced in 1989, but maintained a cordial relationship to one another.[1]

The following year, Beth and the children moved to Littleton, Colorado, where she remarried in 1995.[1] Darrell worked as a sales manager for a large food company in Denver. Darrell and Beth had joint custody of the children.[2][3]

As a child, Rachel attended Dutch Creek Elementary School, and subsequently Ken Caryl Middle School. Coincidentally, she knew Dylan Klebold from a class they shared in 1998 and Dylan and she were members of Columbine's theater production club.[4] Dylan ran audio for a talent show a month and half before where Rachel performed a mime act to the song "Watch the Lamb." The name Rachel means "Little Female Lamb." Rachel's younger brother, Craig, was in the school library during the shooting. Ten students were killed including two of his friends, Isaiah Shoels and Matthew Kechter, next to Craig. Craig helped pick up an injured girl and rallied students to safety. Two days later he appeared on the morning television broadcast of the Today Show with Isaiah's father in an interview in which anchorwoman Katie Couric stated it was "one of her most memorable and even spiritual experiences she had ever had." Rachel's parents also appeared on a show with Maria Shriver immediately after sharing on their personal choice of forgiveness and the principle of it.

At the time of her death, the 17-year old Columbine High School senior was an aspiring writer and actress with summer plans to visit Botswana on a trip to help build homes. Two weeks prior to the shooting, she had a lead role as an alternative character with sharp wit and kind heart. The play was titled "Smoke in the Room" for which Dylan ran the spotlight. Described as a very devout Christian by her mother, she was active at youth group and a leader in a Bible study group called NaCl (the chemical formula for sodium chloride, a common salt). According to friends, she often wore a variety of hats and clothes showing a colorful personality. She left behind six diaries along with journals with friends of shared experiences and encouraging notes. Many writings were addressed to God. On the cover of one journal she had with her the day of the shooting that in which a bullet was lodged into, she wrote "I write not for the sake of glory. Not for the sake of fame. Not of the sake of success. But for the sake of my soul..." In other writings there was a theme of "reaching the unreached" through acts of kindness and compassion.[5]

One month before her death, Rachel wrote a school essay stating: “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.”[6] Similarities have been noted between the journal Rachel kept and Anne Frank's famous diary.[7]


Rachel was shot while eating lunch with her friend, Richard Castaldo, on the lawn outside of the school's library. She was killed by Eric David Harris with multiple gunshot wounds to her head, chest, arm, and leg. According to Richard's first account after awakening from a coma, Richard told his parents the last account of Rachel's life as being mocked for her faith. After the killings, her car was turned into a flower-shrouded memorial in the adjacent Clement Park after being moved from the school's parking lot by grieving students. A long chain link fence was installed for mourners to attach teddy bears, letters and other gifts. Her younger brother, Craig, was also at the school on the day of the shootout. He was in the library where most of the killings occurred and he survived unharmed.


Rachel Scott's funeral on April 24, 1999 was attended by more than 2,000 people and was televised throughout the nation. It was the most watched event on CNN up to that point, surpassing even the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales.[8][9] Roger Rosenblatt of Time magazine wrote in his commentary that her funeral was "... ineradicable because of the photograph of your bright and witty face, now sadly familiar to the country, and because of the loving and admiring testimonies of your family."[10]


Rachel Joy Scott was posthumously awarded the 2001 National Kindness Award for Student of the Year by the Acts of Kindness Association. In 2006, the National Education Association (NEA) of New York awarded Darrell Scott and Rachel’s Challenge the Friend of Education Award.

In 2008, after the Amish school shooting, Craig, Rachel's brother, traveled to speak at a National Council on School Safety before President George W. Bush, White House staff, and educators from across the nation addressing cultural issues and his experiences of speaking to over a million people on the road. Although no award was received, the president requested a copy of the speech and Craig was invited back to White House on another occasion.

In June, 2009, Darrell Scott was selected in a nationwide vote of more than 750,000 baseball fans as the Colorado Rockies "All-Stars Among Us" winner, based on individual public service for his efforts in starting the Rachel's Challenge campaign.[11] He was honored along with the other 29 winners representing all major league baseball teams as part of the pregame ceremonies at the 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 14, 2009.[11][12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott (2000). Rachel's Tears—The Spiritual Journey of Columbine Martyr Rachel Scott. Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson Publishers. pp. 57, 61, 173. ISBN 0-7852-6848-0. 
  2. ^ Rachel's Tears, p. 32.
  3. ^ S.C. Gwynne (1999-12-20). "An Act of God?". Time magazine. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  4. ^ "Rachel Joy Scott". Acolumbinesite.com. 1981-08-05. Retrieved 2012-12-10. 
  5. ^ "Preserving A Daughter's Spirit". CBS News. 2000-04-20. Retrieved 2008-06-02. 
  6. ^ Scott, Rachel (1999). "My Ethics, My Codes of Life". Rachel's Challenge. Retrieved 2009-05-05. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Anne Frank, Rachel Scott: Two teens connected by terror". 
  8. ^ A Columbine Site
  9. ^ "17-year-old girl 'shined for God at all times'", Rocky Mountain News
  10. ^ Rosenblatt, Roger (May 10, 1999). "A Note for Rachel Scott". Time. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  11. ^ a b Singer, Tim (June 29, 2009). "Scott is Rockies' All-Star Among Us". mlb.com. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  12. ^ Newman, Mark (July 14, 2009). "Obama kicks off historic night in St. Louis". mlb.com. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Beth Nimmo, The Journals of Rachel Joy Scott: A Journey of Faith at Columbine High. 2001 (ISBN 0-8499-7594-8).
  • Darrell Scott, Chain Reaction: A Call To Compassionate Revolution. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2001 (ISBN 0-7852-6680-1).
  • Darrell Scott, Rachel Smiles : The Spiritual Legacy of Columbine Martyr Rachel Scott. 2002 (ISBN 0-7852-6472-8).
  • Vision Video, Untold Stories Of Columbine. 2000 (ISBN 1-56364-365-0). Recounts Rachel Scott's life and Darrell Scott's teaching

External links[edit]