BELMONT, N.C. -- For students across Gaston County, this school year is off to a different start.
"The response from Rachel’s Challenge is awesome,” said Katie Nencetti, a junior at South Point High School in Belmont.
It’s been a few weeks since they first learned of Rachel’s Challenge and they’ve already noticed a change.
"People have been acting more kind, not only in personal contact, but on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram,” said Nencetti.
She added, “everyone's just being more nice to everybody.”
Rachel Scott was the first victim of the deadly Columbine High School shooting in 1999. It was her dream to start a chain reaction of kindness.
This fall, 55 Gaston County Schools have each started a chain of their own with each link representing an act of kindness.
"Our goal is not only to stop the bullying and teasing of people, but to continue being nice to everyone and treating everyone equally,” said Nencetti.
The Gaston County School district and the United Way of Gaston County thought it was important to get every school and every student involved in Rachel’s Challenge to encourage kindness and compassion and to also take a stand against bullying.
"I think it's a problem nationwide,” said Stacey Pearson, Faculty Advisor for Rachel’s Challenge at South Point High. “We probably have less of a problem here with it, but everywhere has problems, but with Rachel’s Challenge it sort of reminded them to sort of be aware of and stay out of the drama.”
Students have set up committees dedicated to making other students feel comfortable, not only showing their acceptance of Rachel’s Challenge, but of others.
"It's all about just spreading kindness and I think that's what we're doing and I think we're doing a pretty good job so far,” said Ally Varner, a senior at North Gaston High School in Dallas.
"I don't want to look back on this and say, oh well, we should've done this. I wanna look back and say well, look what we did,” said L.J. Mendoza, a senior at South Point High.