Rachel Scott

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For other people named Rachel Scott, see Rachel Scott (disambiguation).
Rachel Joy Scott
Rachel Joy Scott.jpg
Scott in 1997
Born Rachel Joy Scott
(1981-08-05)August 5, 1981
Denver, Colorado
Died April 20, 1999(1999-04-20) (aged 17)
Littleton, Colorado
Cause of death Gunshot (part of Columbine High School massacre)
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
Religion Christianity



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 also claimed the lives of 11 other 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, founded by her parents, to advocate Rachel's beliefs for the prevention of teen violence, based on her life and writings.[1]


Rachel Joy Scott was born on August 5, 1981, in Denver. She is the third of five children of Darrell Scott (b. 1949) and Beth Nimmo (b. 1953). Her older sisters are Bethanee (b. 1975) and Dana (b. 1976) and her two younger brothers are Craig (b. 1983) and Mike (b. 1984). Her father, Darrell, had formerly been a pastor at a church in Lakewood, Colorado. Rachel's parents divorced in 1989, but maintained a cordial relationship to one another.[2]

The following year, Beth and the children moved to Littleton, Colorado, where she remarried in 1995.[2] Darrell worked as a sales manager for a large food company in Denver. Darrell and Beth had joint custody of the children.[3][4]

As a child, Rachel attended Dutch Creek Elementary School, and subsequently Ken Caryl Middle School. Coincidentally, she knew Columbine Massacre perpetrator Dylan Klebold from a class they shared in 1998 where Klebold and she were members of Columbine's theater production club.[5] Klebold ran audio for a talent show a month and half before the incident where Rachel performed a mime act to the song "Watch the Lamb." On April 20, 1999, Rachel's younger brother, Craig, was in the school library during the shooting. Ten students were killed in the library including two of Craig's friends, Isaiah Shoels and Matthew Kechter. 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 Shoel's father in an interview with anchorwoman Katie Couric. Couric later 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.

At the time of her death, the 17-year-old Columbine High School junior 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. Dylan Klebold ran the spotlight for the play entitled "Smoke in the Room." Described as a very devout Christian by her mother, Rachel was active at youth group and a leader in a Bible study group called NaCl (the chemical formula for sodium chloride, better known as "table salt"). She attended a youth group called "Breakthrough" at Orchard Road Christian Center in Greenwood Village, Colorado. She was a member of the forensics and drama club at Columbine. She also attended three churches; Celebration Christian Fellowship, Orchard Road Christian Center, and Trinity Christian Center. According to friends, she often chose to wear clothes of a style showing a colorful personality. She left behind six diaries along with journals with friends of shared experiences and encouraging notes. Many of the writings were addressed to God. On the cover of the journal she had with her the day of the shooting (into which a bullet was lodged) 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.[6]

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."[7] Similarities have been noted between the journal Rachel kept and Anne Frank's famous diary.[8]


Rachel was shot three times while eating lunch with her friend, Richard Castaldo, on the lawn outside of the school's library. She was shot by Eric David Harris in the leg twice. The fatal wound was in her temple and killed her instantly. Her friend, Richard Castaldo, was shot eight times, and is currently paralyzed from his injuries. In total, 13 people were killed and a further 24 were injured. The two perpetrators then committed suicide, raising the death toll to 15. After the killings, Rachel's 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 of condolence 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, though he survived unharmed.


Rachel's funeral took place on April 24, 1999 at Trinity Christian Center in Littleton, Colorado, one of three churches that she attended.[9] The service was attended by more than 2,500 people and was televised worldwide on CNN and several different TV channels. Many of her friends spoke at her funeral. The mime "Watch the Lamb" was performed by the girl who taught it to Rachel. Millions across the world watched the entirety of her funeral. It was the most watched event on CNN up to that point, surpassing even the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales.[10][11]


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. The president requested a copy of the speech and Craig was invited back to the 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.[12] He was honored along with the other 29 winners representing all major league baseball teams as part of the pre-game ceremonies at the 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 14, 2009.[12][13]

Several books have been written about Rachel Scott, mainly by her father, Darrell Scott, and author Beth Nimmo. These books include Rachel's Tears: The Spiritual Journey of Columbine Martyr Rachel Scott; The Journals of Rachel Joy Scott: A Journey of Faith at Columbine High; and Rachel Smiles: The Spiritual Legacy of Columbine Martyr Rachel Scott. In addition, several documentaries and a movie have focused on the life, death and legacy of Rachel Scott. These include the 2016 film, I'm Not Ashamed, which is directly based upon the on Scott's journals.


  1. ^ "Father remembers Columbine victim" (video). Today show. NBC. 20 April 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2009. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ Rachel's Tears, p. 32.
  4. ^ S.C. Gwynne (1999-12-20). "An Act of God?". Time magazine. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  5. ^ "Rachel Joy Scott". Acolumbinesite.com. 1981-08-05. Retrieved 2012-12-10. 
  6. ^ "Preserving A Daughter's Spirit". CBS News. 2000-04-20. Retrieved 2008-06-02. 
  7. ^ Scott, Rachel (1999). "My Ethics, My Codes of Life". Rachel's Challenge. Archived from the original on May 1, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  8. ^ "Anne Frank, Rachel Scott: Two teens connected by terror". 
  9. ^ "Littleton Funeral". Rome News-Tribune. April 25, 1999. Retrieved August 20, 2016. 
  10. ^ A Columbine Site
  11. ^ "17-year-old girl 'shined for God at all times'", Rocky Mountain News
  12. ^ a b Singer, Tim (June 29, 2009). "Scott is Rockies' All-Star Among Us". mlb.com. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  13. ^ Newman, Mark (July 14, 2009). "Obama kicks off historic night in St. Louis". mlb.com. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 

Cited works and further reading[edit]

  • Brown, Brooks; Merritt, Robert (2002). No Easy Answers: The Truth Behind Death at Columbine High School. Lantern Books. ISBN 1-590-56031-0.
  • Cullen, David (2009). Columbine. Grand Central Publishing. 978-0-4465-4693-5
  • Keuss, Jeff; Sloth, Lia (2006). Rachel's Challenge: A Columbine Legacy. Positively for Kids. ISBN 978-0-9765-7225-1.
  • Larkin, Ralph (2007). Comprehending Columbine. Temple University Press. ISBN 978-1-5921-3490-8.
  • Marsico, Katie (2010). The Columbine High School Massacre: Murder in the Classroom. Marshall Cavendish. ISBN 978-0-7614-4985-0.
  • Scott, Darrell; Nimmo, Beth (2000). The Journal of Rachel Scott: A Journey of Faith at Columbine High. Thomas Nelson Inc. ISBN 0-849-97594-8.
  • Scott, Darrell; Nimmo, Beth; Rabey, Steve (2009). Rachel's Tears: 10th Anniversary Edition: The Spiritual Journey of Columbine. Thomas Nelson Inc. ISBN 978-1-4003-1347-1.
  • Scott, Darrell; Rabey, Steve (2001). Chain Reaction: A Call to Compassionate Revolution. Thomas Nelson Publishers. ISBN 0-785-26680-1.
  • Watson, Justin (2002). The Martyrs of Columbine: Faith and the Politics of Tragedy. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-4039-7000-8.

External links[edit]