CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There are some schools in our area focusing not only on academics but creating a climate where students consider the impact of their actions and words on each other. They're doing it through a program called Rachel's Challenge.
The SWAT team entered the school finding a scene that shocked even the most hardened veterans. Columbine was the worst school shooting in U.S. history. Twelve students and one teacher was killed by two classmates.
"Usually you hear of stuff happening in the 'grown up' world but this was kids… a couple of years older than I am,” said Campbell Stack, an eighth grader.
Liza Barnes tells NewsChannel 36, "I was crying pretty much the whole time. I thought it was pretty devastating.”
Rachel Scott was the first student to die at Columbine, and it's her story recorded in her journals that inspired these students.
They learned she was the girl who would go out of her way to reach out -- not just to friends, but outcasts and bullies.
“That's what is amazing about her -- she was always, like, trying to be her own person and in middle school you try almost not to be your own person so that you fit in," shared Marshall Wood.
"In middle school there's so much insecurity, there's all this looking side to side,” said Dannielle Blount, the school’s guidance counselor.
nsecurity in middle school is not new, but Blount says technology can make the atmosphere even more intense.
"And people say things on-line and in texts that they would never say to your face,” she said.
Elisia Mcknight describes her school as an awesome place but knows everyone doesn't feel that way.
"Some being bullied, some being threatened, some just being in the background half the time,” said Mcknight.
Mcknight thinks Rachel's Challenge can make a difference at Alexander Middle School. The challenge is to look for the best in others, treat others the way you want to be treated, and speak kind words.
“But if you really pay attention to what you are saying to people, you might realize that it might hurt their feelings,” said Barnes.
During lunch periods Monday, students signed a banner if they were willing to commit to Rachel's Challenge.