Vestavia Hills Living

2014

Official magazine published by the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce for the City of Vestavia Hills which details the quality of life, education, shopping and lifestyle of Vestavia Hills.

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P I Z I T Z M I D D L E S C H O O L Sixteen-year-old Rachel Joy Scott was the first victim from the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. Rachel's Challenge, a nonprofit organization created in her memory, aims to make a difference and to affect positive change in students throughout the world by inspiring, equipping, and empowering "every person to create a permanent positive culture change in their school, business and community by starting a chain reaction of kindness and compassion, according to the organization. This year, the Rachel's Challenge program is being implemented at Pizitz Middle School. After school counselors from Pizitz attended an Anti-Bullying conference, they decided Pizitz would be a perfect place to implement this program, says Catherine Horton. With help from Principal David Miles and Vestavia Hills City Council Member John Henley, Pizitz arranged funding for the presentation of the program and partnered with Liberty Park Middle School and Vestavia Hills High School to introduce students to Rachel's Challenge and Rachel's five visions to be carried throughout the world. The five challenges found in Rachel Joy Scott's journal presented in this program are: 1. Look for the best in others. 2. Dream big. 3. Choose positive infl uences. 4. Speak with kindness. 5. Start your own chain reaction. "Through these five challenges, students are forced to think differently by fostering a positive atmosphere and by helping address bullying issues that occur in schools to create a lasting impact on others' lives," Horton says. "The teachers are seeing the student body embrace the challenge by being more open and reaching out to peers for whom they might not ordinarily reach, beginning the chain of kindness. The students, parents, and faculty are not the only ones who have advocated for Rachel's Challenge. This kindness seems to be spreading like a wildfire across the community." To take the ideas of Rachel's Challenge a little further, Pizitz students and faculty created the Friends of Rachel club, also known as FOR. Open to all students, FOR meets twice a month during homeroom with a sponsoring teacher. The FOR club mission is to "create permanent culture change" in the school. Each grade level has implemented activities for the student body, such as creating videos to show appreciation for their teachers (sixth grade), and videos demonstrating how to recognize a student who exemplifies the virtues expressed through Rachel's Challenge (seventh grade). The eighth grade FOR clubs y, sponsored a Kickball Fundraising Tournament to benefit Relay for Life, and welcome their peers as students enter the school. Two seventh graders came up with the idea of students nominating peers who exemplify one of the five Rachel Challenges, and awarding a Rachel's Challenge Award. These students were recognized during the Citizenship Assembly and given a certificate and a letter explaining how they "were caught" doing random acts of kindness, Horton says. 36 v e s tav i a h i l l s l i v i n g 2 0 1 4

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