ZACHARY, LA (NBC33) — The Zachary Community School System  says it is up to the challenge.
It wants to help end bullying, so it is joining the list of districts around the country implementing the Rachel's Challenge  program.
Educators in Zachary say they do not have a problem with bullying, but it is a subject they cannot ignore.
"We really don't have any overall, extreme issues, but of course there are issues of bullying that we do take care of," said Lisa Smothers, a geometry teacher at Zachary High School.
"We have great kids here," Superintendent Scott Devillier stated. "But they do make bad choices. They do, at times, not treat each other as kind as they need to, or should."
"And the best thing we can do is help them and educate them, and give them the freedom to reach out," added Karen Neal, ZHS' Executive Secretary.
Neal was especially excited to hear that Zachary would join the Rachel's Challenge movement. The program is named after Rachel Scott, the first victim of the Columbine school shooting  in 1999. Scott wrote about inclusion, and using acts of kindness to create a chain reaction. Neal lived in Littleton, Colorado during the 90's and went to church with the Scott family.
"It's been 20-some years, but I definitely remember Rachel as a sweet little girl," Neal mentioned.
Larry Scott, Rachel's uncle, spoke at the district's annual convocation meeting Friday morning.
"Just to hear her story was heart-felt, it was touching," Smothers stated. "I think that every student should see it, I think that every parent should see it."
"That message was so strong. It was so meaningful to so many people," Devillier added. "And I believe that it's going to make a difference in helping Zachary as a community, as a school system, grow to greatness."
Bullying is most common in among high school and middle school kids, but Zachary is taking the program to everyone, even the first-graders.
"If you teach children, from Day One, the right way to do things, then, when they get to be middle school, high school students, hopefully they won't make those same bad choices," Devillier stated.
He has high expectations for what Rachel's Challenge can do, even beyond his schools. "And we are going to incorporate all of this community. Not just in our schools, but in the entire community," he added. "I met with the mayor yesterday; he is excited about it. We've met with business leaders in the community; they are all very excited about this initiative."
Zachary has perennially been ranked the top-performing school system in the state, so it is easy for outsiders to think it has no problems.
"Zachary's number one. We've been it for nine years, but we can always grow and we can always do better," claimed Jamie Byrd, a special education teacher at ZHS. "So having every one of our kids just implement kindness, in a little part, I think will do big things for our system."
Rachel's Challenge has reached more than 20,000,000 people. It incorporates five goals: eliminating prejudice; setting goals and following dreams; choosing one's own influences; offering small acts of kindness every day; and starting a chain reaction of such positive ideals with family and friends
"And when all that takes place, it has to be great," Devillier said. "It has to be great."
A team from Rachel's Challenge will be in Zachary to work with students over two days in September. On September 9, there will be a community-wide event where everyone can learn how to meet the challenge.