Joe P. Asher
Students at Harlan Independent Schools will be dealing with serious subject matter next week. The school plans to offer a program dealing with bullying and suicide on Tuesday.
The Rachel’s Challenge program is a nationally recognized program that grew out of the Columbine school shootings over a decade ago.
According to the organization’s website rachelschalleng.org, the program was started by the parents of Rachel Joy Scott. Scott was the first person killed in the Columbine school shootings. The program is based around Scott’s writings, which were discovered after her death.
Debby Howard, coordinator for the Harlan Family Resource Youth Service Center (FRYSC) at Harlan Independent Schools explains the program “has a really good message.”
According to Howard, bullying is an issue that needs to be addressed.
“Obviously the legislature feels like it’s a problem because school’s have been asked in the last few years to address the problem,” said Howard.
Howard explained Harlan is not the first area school to have participated in the program.
“It has been in Middlesboro…and I’ve been told it’s been in Cumberland,” said Howard.
She explained that Harlan Independent already has programs in place to assist troubled youth should the need arise.
“We have a contract with Comp Care. They provide a mental health counselor here full-time. We have someone on-site,” said Howard.
Howard pointed out this is the first time Harlan Independent has had the Rachel’s Challenge program.
“It’s fairly expensive to bring them here,” said Howard. “We really appreciate the UNITE (Unlawful Narcotics Investigations Treatment and Education) Coalition. Each year they help to sponsor some programs in the school and this year they are helping us do this.”
Harlan Independent High School principal Stacy Noah points out, “Our school is just like any other school, there are problems that exist and we just want to be proactive in stopping anything before it occurs. We are very preventative in nature so that’s why we are supportive of this program coming to our school.”
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or firstname.lastname@example.org