Rachel Scott

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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 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
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)
Website www.rachelschallenge.org

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 (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 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 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 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 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. 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, better known as "table salt"). She attended a youth group called "Breakthrough" at Orchard Road Christian Center in Greenwood Village, ColoradoAccording 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 (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.[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 shot by Eric David Harris in the chest, arm, and ribcage. According to Richard Castaldo, (who was paralyzed from his injuries) Eric David Harris pulled her hair and mocked her for her faith. Then he went up to her and said "Do you still believe in your God?". She responded with "you know I do". She was shot in the left temple and killed. In total, 13 innocent people were killed and 24 were injured. The two killers committed suicide in the end, bringing the death toll to 15. 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, though he survived unharmed.Template:Cullen, David. Columbine. New York: Twelve Hatchet Book Group, 2009


Rachel's funeral took place on April 24, 1999 at Trinity Christian Center in Littleton, Colorado, one of three churches Rachel attended. It was attended by more than 3,000 people and was televised worldwide on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC. 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.[8][9] Friends and family gathered hours inside the church before the funeral to write heart-wrenching goodbye messages in permanent marker on her ivory white casket. During the funeral, her close friends gave impromptu speeches about her. Rachel's youth pastor said "she was an amazing girl with a full of life side where she had so much energy and made people laugh". Her missionettes youth teacher said "She shined for God even in the most difficult times." One friend spoke of how Rachel offered to switch Halloween costumes with him because he was embarassed of his. Another talked about how they were planning to move into an apartment together. One boy told the crowd about how she changed his life. "All my life I prayed that someone would love me and make me feel wanted, God sent me an angel," he said. Another girl sobbed and told how Rachel had been so kind to her when she didn't fit in when she first came to Columbine High School. One girl from Breakthrough (Rachel's youth group) remembers Rachel as being "her one and only joy" ("Joy" being her middle name) Her cousin read yearbook messages written by Rachel, and a poem she wrote the night of Rachel's death. A memorial video presentation of Rachel over the years sent people in the audience to tears. Rev. Bruce Porter, of the Celebration Christian Fellowship (one of Rachel's churches) gave an inspiring sermon at her funeral. He told the congregation to "pick up the torch that Rachel carried" Immediately, thousands inside the auditorium stood up and held up their hand, as if they were carrying a torch. Millions around the world watching it on TV did the same. The mime "Watch the Lamb" was performed by her sister, Dana. 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]

Rachel's Challenge was created by Rachel's parents to carry on her beliefs.[13]

Several books have been written about her, mainly by her father Darrell Scott, and author Beth Nimmo:

(ISBN 978-0-7852-6848-2).

  • 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).

as well as a video and movie

  • Vision Video, Untold Stories Of Columbine. 2000 (ISBN 1-56364-365-0). Recounts Rachel Scott's life and Darrell Scott's teaching
  • Visible Pictures, I'm Not Ashamed. 2016. Movie on Rachel Scott's Legacy


  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. Archived from the original on May 1, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  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. 
  13. ^ "Father remembers Columbine victim" (video). Today show. NBC. 20 April 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2009.