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Tomorrow night, Batavia Junior High and High School students and their families are invited to attend a second annual event at BHS called “Rachel’s Challenge.”


The "Challenge" is named for Rachel Scott, a young woman who died in the infamous Columbine school shootings in 1999. The program was created by her father, Darrell.

It strives to promote peace in schools by suppressing bullying and violent behavior. Music, videos, and personal testimony are wrapped together into a sort of training program for students.

Batavia High School Special Education teacher Tom Ingalsbe is leading this year’s event. With the recent tragic student suicide at Rutgers University, Ingalsbe says he hopes Rachel’s Challenge can bring Batavia students closer together.

"I think one of the strong messages that Rachel's Challenge sends is to students that are having issues: they're not alone," said Ingalsbe today. "There are many, many adolescents who are feeling the same insecurities and issues. There are people to turn to - both peers and adults - to help them work through their problems."

Less than two weeks ago, Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi jumped off a bridge and killed himself, after his roommate allegedly streamed live video online of Clementi having a sexual encounter with another man. Anti-bullying and pro-homosexual groups have been in an uproar since then, condemning the roommate's actions.

Ingalsbe says the problems of violence and bullying aren't just limited to schools. He says last year's "Challenge" truly struck him, and his fellow faculty members at Batavia City Schools.

"Students were allowed to go on stage and talk about their personal experiences, and how, after seeing the (Challenge), they were going to look at life differently," recalls Ingalsbe.

"Some of them got up there, and very emotionally talked about how school, for some of them, is the only safe place they have. They don't necessarily know what they're going to go home to. But here, they know what to expect. They know they're safe."

Millions across the country have taken part, and you can too. Rachel’s Challenge comes to Batavia High tomorrow night, at 6:30pm. Students will also take part in related sessions at school tomorrow morning.

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