Year in Review: Schools take up Rachel's Challenge, ALICE training in 2013

by Bob Gaetjens | editor Published:

During the calendar year of 2013, the school district established two programs aimed at improving the safety and happiness of students and teachers -- ALICE and Rachel's Challenge.

ALICE

ALICE, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate, is a different policy for dealing with unwanted intruders in school buildings was enacted district-wide this year.

During the school year, school officials joined police officials from area departments to undergo training they in turn passed on to students and other school officials.

Streetsboro High School Principal Eric Rauschkolb said he felt prepared to train other teachers and students on ALICE after the session.

"The two-day training we went through was very thorough," he said. "The ALICE training really allows us to increase our survivability during a major catastrophe like a shooting."

Rauschkolb and other school officials then conducted training in September and October for students and community members.

ALICE Training Institute Instructor Chad Cunningham said ALICE is a more proactive response to an intruder than a traditional lockdown.

Grimm said he prefers the options available under ALICE than a typical lockdown. If at all possible, School Board member Kevin Grimm said students and staff should evacuate the building, but if that's not an option he'd rather have students and teachers empowered to do something about the situation, as they do under ALICE, rather than huddle under a desk.

"When it comes right down to it, if it was my child in the classroom, I would like to know they had a fighting chance rather than sitting in a corner and letting something bad happen to them," he said.

Rachel's Challenge

In December, the district also asked the community to join in taking up Rachel's Challenge, a club-based effort to crowd out bullying with deeds that build community rather than tear it down.

Rachel's Challenge was named after Rachel Scott, a high school student who was killed in the 1999 Columbine High School shooting.

"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," she wrote in an essay shortly before her death.

More than 150 students at Streetsboro High School and Streetsboro Middle School, as well as some sixth-graders at Henry Defer Intermediate School took up the "Rachel's Challenge" and formed Friends of Rachel clubs in December, aimed at improving the environment in their schools, crowding out bullying with compassion in the process.

Todd Lauderdale, a presenter for Rachel's Challenge, said the Friends of Rachel Clubs are "very crucial for any long-term lasting change" at a building.

He said the clubs should focus on campaigns or projects of compassion in the school buildings and gave students some ideas to get started with at a December assembly.

Streetsboro Middle School Principal Steve Hatch said Rachel's Challenge is "very powerful and moving."

"I think this is one of the most important things we'll do. I really do," Hatch said. "We think it's going to make a difference for the students of Streetsboro -- not only for our kids, but also for our community, for our parents and for our staff. If they care about each other, they're not going to bully each other."

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