Dawn Giarrusso, John Macera, Leslie LeFebvre, Michael Waterman, Kevin Denneny, Anthony Corrente Thomas Barbieri, Joseph Rotz, and Michael Crudale
Giarrusso and her colleagues’ winning program, “Rachel’s Challenge,” focuses on random acts of kindness and eliminating school violence and bullying. Rachel Scott was the first person killed at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. Inspired by her acts of kindness and compassion, Rachel’s Challenge exists to inspire, equip and empower every student to create a permanent, positive culture change in their school and community by starting a chain reaction of kindness and compassion. The goal of the project is to create a safer environment for all students by delivering proactive antidotes against school violence and bullying. The program improves academic achievement by engaging students and parents in the learning process and providing them with information that is culturally relevant. Students will participate in anti-bullying skits, community service projects and will work on creating a “chain reaction,” a chain made from paper links, highlighting student achievements. This program will also inform parents of ways to identify students who are being bullied and educate them on how to effectively handle these issues. Giarrusso and her team believe all students will benefit from this project.