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 belief, based on her life and the contents of a two-page essay penned just a month before her murder, entitled My Ethics; My Codes of Life,[1] and which had advocated Rachel's belief in compassion being "the greatest form of love humans have to offer."[2]


Rachel Joy Scott was born on August 5, 1981, in Denver. She was the third of five children born to 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.[3]

The following year, Beth and the children moved to Littleton, Colorado, where she remarried in 1995.[3] Darrell worked as a sales manager for a large food company in Denver. Darrell and Beth had joint custody of the children.[4][5]

As a child, Rachel attended Dutch Creek Elementary School, and subsequently Ken Caryl Middle School. Coincidentally, she knew one of the perpetrators of the Columbine High School massacre, Dylan Klebold, from a class they had shared in 1998 in which both Klebold and she were members of Columbine's theater production club.[6] Klebold had also been a sound technician for a school talent show held just six weeks before the incident, in which Rachel had performed a mime act to the song "Watch the Lamb."

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, commonly known as "table salt"). She attended a youth group called "Breakthrough" at Orchard Road Christian Center in Greenwood Village, Colorado. She also attended three churches; Celebration Christian Fellowship; Orchard Road Christian Center; and Trinity Christian Center.

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." Scott was also a member of the forensics and drama club at Columbine.

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 her 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.[7]


Rachel Scott was the first individual to be shot in the Columbine High School massacre. She was shot four times while eating lunch with her friend, Richard Castaldo, on the lawn outside the West Entrance of the school. Initially shot shot in the chest, arm and leg, Rachel was then murdered my a fatal wound to her temple, reportedly inflicted as she attempted to stand.[8] Her friend, Richard Castaldo, was shot eight times, and permanently paralyzed from his injuries. In total, 13 people were killed and a further 24 were injured. The two perpetrators then committed suicide, raising the final 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, although in addition to losing his sister in the massacre, two of his close friends, Isaiah Shoels (18) and Matthew Kechter (16), were also murdered. After the two perpetrators had left the library, Craig assisted in evacuating an injured girl, Kacey Ruegsegger (17), from the library. This act likely prevented Ruegsegger from bleeding to death from her injuries.[9]

Two days after the Columbine High School massacre, Craig Scott 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.


Rachel Joy Scott was laid to rest on April 24, 1999 in a service held at the Trinity Christian Center and officiated by the Reverend Bruce Porter.[10] Her funeral was attended by more than 2,500 people including her family, friends, and staff at Columbine High School. Many of her friends and those to whom she had extended her offer of friendship and support also spoke at this service, including one youth who had been considered an outcast at Columbine High School, who stated: "All my life I prayed that someone would love me and make me feel wanted. God sent me an angel", before staring at Rachel's casket and weeping.[11] Rachel's parents chose not to speak at the service, but issued a statement in which they described their daughter as "a girl whose love of life was constantly reflected in her love and zeal for music, drama, photography, and for her friends." Prior to her burial, mourners who had known Rachel throughout her life were invited to write messages of condolence upon her ivory white casket.[12]

The funeral service was televised worldwide upon numerous national and international TV channels. The mime "Watch the Lamb" was also performed at this service by the girl who had previously taught the recitation to Rachel, who had in turn delivered the performance in 1998.[13] Millions across the world watched the entirety of her funeral. Broadcast live upon CNN, Scott's funeral drew the greatest number of viewers the network had received up to that point, surpassing even the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales.[14][15]


National Kindness Award[edit]

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.

Journal entries[edit]

One month before her death, Rachel had written a school essay entitled My Ethics, My Codes of Life, in which she had stated her belief in the act of compassion being the greatest form of love human beings could advocate to each other. In this essay, Rachel had also written: "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. People will never know how far a little kindness can go."[16] This essay inspired Rachel's parents who, upon reviewing the life of the daughter they had lost and recalling her repeatedly stated desire for her life to have an impact for the better upon others,[17] and hearing of how profound an impact Rachel's simple acts of kindness had imprinted on the lives of those who had known her, to found Rachel's Challenge.

Similarities have been noted between the journal Rachel kept and Anne Frank's famous diary.[18]

Rachel's Challenge[edit]

Rachel's Challenge is a non-profit and non-political organization[19] whose stated aims are to advocate a positive climate and culture in schools in a campaign to quell school violence, bullying, and teen suicide. As a result of Rachel's Challenge, numerous teenage suicides have been prevented, bullying has decreased in American schools, and in three known cases, planned school shootings have been prevented.[20]

Craig Scott meets then-President George W. Bush during a conference devoted to the topic of school safety held in 2006[21]

Following the 2008 Amish school shooting, Rachel's brother was invited 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.[22] 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.[22][23]



  • The film I'm Not Ashamed (2016) is directly based upon the life, death, and legacy of Rachel Joy Scott. Directed by Brian Baugh and starring Masey McLain as Rachel Scott, I'm Not Ashamed is directly based upon the contents of Scott's journals.



  • The 49-minute documentary, Ambassador of Kindness is directly based on the evolution of Rachel's Challenge following Rachel Scott's murder. Directed by Bryan Boorujy and Janet Stumbo, Ambassador of Kindness was released in 2012.
  • Columbine's Witness: The Story of Rachel Scott is a 2010 documentary focusing on the life and legacy of Rachel Scott. Members of Rachel's family, her friends, and faculty members of Columbine High School are among those interviewed for this documentary.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Father remembers Columbine victim" (video). Today show. NBC. 20 April 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2009. 
  2. ^ "Rachel's Story: Darrell Scott brings his daughter's memory to the Shoals". Times Daily. September 15, 2001. Retrieved August 25, 2016. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Rachel's Tears, p. 32.
  5. ^ S.C. Gwynne (1999-12-20). "An Act of God?". Time magazine. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  6. ^ "Rachel Joy Scott". Acolumbinesite.com. 1981-08-05. Retrieved 2012-12-10. 
  7. ^ "Preserving A Daughter's Spirit". CBS News. 2000-04-20. Retrieved 2008-06-02. 
  8. ^ acolumbinesite.com
  9. ^ "Columbine survivor in Rose Parade". Casper Star Tribune. December 27, 2004. Retrieved August 20, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Littleton Funeral". Rome News-Tribune. April 25, 1999. Retrieved August 20, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Heart-wrenching Farewells Begin In Grieving Town". Chicago Tribune. April 25, 1999. Retrieved August 26, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Terror In Littleton: The Details; Attack at School Planned a Year, Authorities Say". The New York Times. April 25, 1999. Retrieved August 26, 2016. 
  13. ^ Rachel's Tears: 10th Anniversary Edition: The Spiritual Journey of Columbine p. 94
  14. ^ A Columbine Site
  15. ^ "17-year-old girl 'shined for God at all times'", Rocky Mountain News
  16. ^ Scott, Rachel (1999). "My Ethics, My Codes of Life". Rachel's Challenge. Archived from the original on May 1, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  17. ^ "Rachel Scott touched 'millions of people's lives". Hollis Brookline Journal. April 15, 2008. Retrieved August 25, 2016. 
  18. ^ "Anne Frank, Rachel Scott: Two teens connected by terror". 
  19. ^ Grey, Jamie (5 August 2014). "Rachel's Challenge to offer small school programs". KTVB.com. Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  20. ^ "Rachel's Challenge Program at Grafton High School November 20th". Valley Newws and Views. November 15, 2007. Retrieved August 25, 2016. 
  21. ^ [https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2006/10/20061010-8.html President Bush Participates in Panel on School Safety: thewhitehouse.gov
  22. ^ a b Singer, Tim (June 29, 2009). "Scott is Rockies' All-Star Among Us". mlb.com. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  23. ^ 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]