My name is Betsy Smith, and I have a 12 year old daughter attending St. James School. Given the worldwide events of the past two years, I feel kids are at even greater risk of school violence and self-harm due to the added stress and anxiety all families have been through, including those here at St James. 

Rachel’s Challenge is a national non-profit dedicated to making schools safer, more connected places where bullying and isolation are replaced with kindness and respect; where learning and teaching are awakened to their fullest. Based on the life and writing of Rachel Scott, the first victim of the Columbine tragedy in 1999, they provide a continuous improvement process designed to awaken the learner in every child. The objective is to motivate and equip students and staff to start and sustain a chain reaction of kindness and compassion that transforms schools and communities.

Please consider donating $5-10 towards the purchase of the $1,500 Digital Classroom Program offered by the Rachel's Challenge organization, which includes on demand video modules, an interactive workbook with tools and activities with reflection prompts and discussion questions, and daily interactive SEL (social-emotional learning) activities, etc. I will volunteer my time to lead interested students twice a month through the program. My plan is to facilitate their conversations in a healthy, supportive manner, while steering away from controversial topics. I want them to get to know each other and develop empathy and understanding. 

There will be nominal club dues for participants, which will be donated to St. James the Less Catholic Church if we are able to raise the entire $1,500 program cost. 

This program neatly aligns with Sr. Amanda Russell's goal for 8th graders this year - compassionate communication. In her words, "They are going to learn how to disagree with one another, face conflict, and speak compassionately towards one another without blame or demeaning language as each day unfolds."