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Rachel Joy Scott
from Rachel's Tears: the Spiritual Journey of Columbine Martyr Rachel Scott
Born Rachel Joy Scott
August 5, 1981(1981-08-05)
Died April 20, 1999(1999-04-20) (aged 17)
Columbine High School
Columbine, Colorado, United States
Resting place Columbine Memorial Gardens at Chapel Hill Cemetery, Littleton, Colorado
Parents Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott (b. 1949)
Relatives Dana Scott (b. 1976), sister
Mike Scott (b. 1984), brother
Craig Scott (b. 1983), brother
Bethanee McCandless (b. 1975), sister

Rachel Joy Scott (August 5, 1981 – April 20, 1999) was the first victim of the Columbine High School massacre, which claimed the lives of 12 students and one teacher and the two perpetrators, in the deadliest high school shooting in United States history.

She has since been the subject of several books and is the inspiration for Rachel's Challenge, a nationwide school outreach program for the prevention of teen violence, based on her life and writings. The program's speakers include her father, Darrell Scott, and brothers, Craig and Mike Scott.[1] Her mother, Beth Nimmo, has also authored books and is the speaker for Rachel Joy Scott Ministries, to perpetuate her daughter's legacy. After the massacre, Chuck Norris dedicated his autobiography to Rachel Scott.[2]


Rachel Joy Scott was born on August 5, 1981, one of five children of Darrell Scott (born 1949) and Beth Nimmo. Her older sisters are Bethanee (born 1975) and Dana (born 1976) and her two younger brothers are Craig (born 1983) and Mike (born 1984). Her father had formerly pastored a church in Lakewood, Colorado, but left the ministry when the marriage ended in divorce in 1989.[3] The following year, Beth and the children moved to the Littleton, Colorado area, where she remarried in 1995.[3] Darrell Scott became a sales manager for a food company in the Denver area and had joint custody of the children with their mother.[4][5] As a child, Rachel attended Governor's Ranch Elementary School, and subsequently Ken Caryl Middle School. Coincidentally, she knew Dylan Klebold since kindergarten, and Rachel remained in the same classes with Klebold until their deaths. They were both members of Columbine's theater production club.[6]

At the time of her death, the 17-year old Columbine High School junior was an aspiring writer and actress. She had the leading role in a student-written play. Described as a devout Christian by her mother, she was active as a youth group leader at Orchard Road Christian Center Church near Littleton and was known for her friendliness and compassionate nature. Rachel left behind six diaries and several essays about her belief in God and how she wanted to change the world through small acts of kindness.[7] Shortly before her death, Rachel wrote an essay for school stating, “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.”[8] Some sources claim that the journal Rachel kept shared some similarities to Anne Frank's famous diary. Both girls preached compassion and care.

The day of the shooting

Rachel was shot while eating lunch with a friend, Richard Castaldo, on the lawn outside the school's library. She was killed by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold with multiple gunshot wounds to her head, chest, arm, and leg. After the killings, her car was turned into a flower-bedecked memorial in the school's parking lot by grieving students.

Early news reports said that one of the gunmen, after having first shot Rachel in her leg, asked the wounded girl if she still believed in God and that she had simply answered "You know I do". Her response provoked a second, fatal shot to her head at point-blank range.[7][9] Some accounts attributed this version of events to Castaldo, who was severely wounded in the attack himself. Although his mother told a Dateline NBC interviewer about the exchange, Castaldo denied telling this story in a December, 1999, Time magazine interview.[5][10] The FBI later concluded that the exchange did not take place.[9] Despite the controversy surrounding this issue, Rachel’s parents contend in their book, Rachel’s Tears: the Spiritual Journey of Columbine Martyr Rachel Scott, that their daughter was targeted by the killers and died as a martyr for her Christian faith. This was based on videotapes made by the teenage perpetrators in which they are said to mock Rachel by name for her beliefs.[10]


Scott's funeral on April 24, 1999, was attended by more than 2,000 people and was televised throughout the nation. It was the most watched event on CNN up to that point, surpassing even the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales.[11][12] Roger Rosenblatt of Time magazine wrote in his commentary that her funeral was "... ineradicable because of the photograph of your bright and witty face, now sadly familiar to the country, and because of the loving and admiring testimonies of your family."[13]


Rachel Joy Scott was posthumously awarded the 2001 National Kindness Award for Student of the Year by the Acts of Kindness Association. In 2006, the National Education Association (NEA) of New York awarded Darrell Scott and Rachel’s Challenge the Friend of Education Award.

In June, 2009, Darrell Scott was selected in a nationwide vote of more than 750,000 baseball fans as the Colorado Rockies "All-Stars Among Us" winner, based on individual public service for his efforts in starting the Rachel's Challenge campaign.[14] He was honored along with the other 29 winners representing all major league baseball teams as part of the pregame ceremonies at the 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 14, 2009.[14][15]

See also

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  • Rachel's Challenge


  1. "Rachel's Challenge—Presenters". 2009. http://www.rachelschallenge.com/ProgramsWeOffer/ProgramPresenters/tabid/1964/Default.aspx. Retrieved 2009-04-15.[dead link]
  2. Rachel's Challenge: A Columbine Legacy pg. 40
  3. 3.0 3.1 Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott (2000). Rachel's Tears—The Spiritual Journey of Columbine Martyr Rachel Scott. Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson Publishers. pp. 57, 61, 173. ISBN 0785268480.
  4. Rachel's Tears, p. 32.
  5. 5.0 5.1 S.C. Gwynne (1999-12-20). "An Act of God?". Time magazine. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,992875,00.html?promoid=googlep. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
  6. Rachel Joy Scott at A Columbine Site
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Preserving A Daughter's Spirit". CBS News. 2000-04-20. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2000/04/20/columbine/main186406.shtml. Retrieved 2008-06-02.
  8. Scott, Rachel (1999). "My Ethics, My Codes of Life". Rachel's Challenge. http://rachelschallenge.com/LearnMore/RachelsEssay/tabid/1701/Default.aspx. Retrieved 2009-05-05.[dead link]
  9. 9.0 9.1 Toppo, Greg (April 13, 2009). "10 years later, the real story behind Columbine". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-04-13-columbine-myths_N.htm#. Retrieved 2009-04-15.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Rachel's Tears, pp. 89–92.
  11. A Columbine Site
  12. "17-year-old girl 'shined for God at all times'", Rocky Mountain News
  13. Rosenblatt, Roger (May 10, 1999). "A Note for Rachel Scott". Time. http://www.racheljoyscott.com./rjslegacysite/time.html. Retrieved 2009-04-15.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Singer, Tim (June 29, 2009). "Scott is Rockies' All-Star Among Us". mlb.com. http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090629&content_id=5602944&vkey=news_col&fext=.jsp&c_id=col&partnerId=rss_col. Retrieved 2009-07-14.
  15. Newman, Mark (July 14, 2009). "Obama kicks off historic night in St. Louis". mlb.com. http://wap.mlb.com/news/article/200907145874014. Retrieved 2009-07-15.

Further reading

  • Beth Nimmo, The Journals of Rachel Joy Scott: A Journey of Faith at Columbine High. 2001 (ISBN 0-8499-7594-8).
  • Darrell Scott, Chain Reaction: A Call To Compassionate Revolution. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2001 (ISBN 0-7852-6680-1).
  • Darrell Scott, Rachel Smiles : The Spiritual Legacy of Columbine Martyr Rachel Scott. 2002 (ISBN 0-7852-6472-8).
  • Vision Video, Untold Stories Of Columbine. 2000 (ISBN 1-56364-365-0). Recounts Rachel Scott's life and Darrell Scott's teaching

External links

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