Let your true colors show.
That was the message coming from the first regional Rachel’s Rally at Frankfort-Schuyler Junior-Senior High School on Wednesday.
The theme was based around a Rachel Scott quote, “Don’t let your character change color with your environment. Find out who you are and let it stay its true color.”
During the closing ceremony of the rally for the Friends of Rachel Club members, Frankfort-Schuyler Central School Superintendent Robert Reina spoke about the values Scott lived by which included trust, honesty, love and compassion.
“What you need to understand is that you do have the power to love and change lives,” said Reina.
Michael Youngs, a 1995 Frankfort-Schuyler graduate, then sang the song “True Colors” while performing it on the piano.
Then the 200 students and 50 teachers from the 10 different schools gathered outside on the school’s soccer field, made a positive wish and released balloons of different colors into the sky. Once they were launched, the Friends of Rachel Club members let out cheers and applause, along with Frankfort-Schuyler Elementary School students who were watching from their school grounds nearby.
The club is named after Rachel Scott, the first victim in the Columbine school shooting in 1999. Scott had left behind diaries where she spoke about kindness and compassion. According to the Rachel’s Challenge website, Scott had written shortly before her death, “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.”
Since then, friends and family have implemented Friends of Rachel’s Club in schools around the country.
“It’s to start a chain reaction of kindness and compassion in schools, families and communities. It was only natural for all of us to come together,” said Shelley Ceglia, a Frankfort-Schuyler guidance counselor, about the club during Wednesday’s event.
Ceglia and Andrea Cordero, also a school guidance counselor, coordinated the event which included Frankfort-Schuyler, Central Valley Academy, Dolgeville, Herkimer, Chittenango, Clinton, Holland Patent, Mexico Academy, Oriskany and Poland.
Sponsors were the Mohawk Valley Regional Volunteer Center and the Frankfort-Schuyler Teachers’ Association.
Club members who participated in the day’s events had several activities to take part in to encourage team building and cooperation. One activity was for a student to wear a blindfold while another student guided them through with words of kindness. Another activity included students running to the top of the bleachers to shout out their dream with the encouragement of their team. Members also took part in writing letters to Scott, community service and a panel discussion.
Page 2 of 2 - “What I love is when the schools get creative,” said Peter DeAnello, a presenter for Rachel’s Challenge.
He said he was glad to see the 10 schools coordinate a regional event and to have different activities planned out for its members.
“Rachel did everything from the heart,” said DeAnello.
He said he addressed the students at the start of the day’s rally telling them to “absorb what you’re going to see today from the heart.”
Dana Scott, Rachel Scott’s older sister, wrote a letter to the Friends of Rachel Club at Frankfort-Schuyler Jr.-Sr. High School and thanked them for the events they have held over the year, since the club’s inception, including its “Day of Caring,” caroling, volunteering at the YMCA, mentoring younger children and “all the compassionate ways you made a difference for the community of Sandy Hook.”
“I think sometimes people think that Rachel must have done the right thing, every single moment, every single day, but this is not true,” reads a portion of Dana Scott’s letter, which was read to the members participating in the rally. “Rachel made mistakes in her short life, she often wrote about them in her diaries … even though she made mistakes like you and I do, she still made an impact and left a legacy of love and compassion with the people she interacted with almost every day.”
“It was great,” said Frankfort-Schuyler High School Principal John Bubb, who helped students participate throughout the day. “… I saw lots of smiles. I think all the kids got something out of this.”
Bubb thanked the efforts Ceglia and Cordero, along with Reina, for their efforts in making the club and the day a success.
“I’m glad all the other schools took part in this,” he said.