EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) - In an age where violence in schools is becoming all too common, students at Deer Creek Middle School are hoping to influence change.
Friday showcased a powerful symbol of that as they held hands and linked arms, surrounding their school with kindness.
"We are going to start a chain reaction of hope by linking together," said Jena Nelson, a Deer Creek Middle School teacher and 2020 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.
For the human chain of kindness, more than 1,000 students, parents, and community members came together.
"Today, we are joining our hands as a school to embrace our school," Nelson said.
Embracing their school with kindness is an act inspired by tragedy.
Rachel Scott was one of 13 victims of a shooting at Columbine High School in 1999. This week, Deer Creek Middle School students began a mission of carrying on her legacy.
"On the back of her dresser, she traced out the outline of her hands and to paraphrase it she said, `My name is Rachel Joyce Scott and these hands will someday touch millions of lives,'" Nelson said.
The school is taking on "Rachel's Challenge," focusing on kindness and empathy.
"They have pages set up to send out compliments to people," said Nelson. "They are taking notes and giving them to teachers, they're giving them to random students."
These students are growing up in an age where acts of violence and bullying are all too common and oftentimes deadly. They're hoping to break that cycle.
"People should be kind, generous, no matter who you are," said eighth-grade student Sam Hart.
"When we come into the cafeteria, there are people who wait and give everyone a high-five and even though it's small, I think it can change people's perspective of life," eighth-grade student Annahlyssa Acosta said.
Deer Creek Middle School officials say they'd love to have other districts join them in Rachel's Challenge. They just ask that students, parents or leaders simply reach out to them.