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The Berkshires

Rachel's Challenge comes to Port Jervis weeks after Newtown shootings

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Albany/HV: Rachel's Challenge comes to Port Jervis weeks after Newtown shootings
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A national program makes its way to Port Jervis and challenges students to change their ways. YNN's Elaina Athans has more on the presentation that some people believe came at the ideal time.

PORT JERVIS, N.Y. -- An intense prevention program returned to the Port Jervis High School. Rachel's Challenge offered a workshop aimed at combating bullying and promoting community within a school. The exercise lasted six hours. It included teaching segments and activities.

"I definitely think it's important to form the family-like community," said senior Kimberly Bright.

The organization that runs that program was formed in honor of Rachel Scott, the first person killed in the Columbine shootings. The exercise in Port Jervis was held just weeks after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

"If you get these kids to take care of each other, to support each other, to realize that they're not alone, then hopefully you won't have to hear anymore stories. You won't have to report anymore Sandys or anymore Columbines," said Ali Nourbakhsk from Rachel's Challenge.

This is the third year this program has been brought to the Port Jervis High School. Students and staff alike said that they have noticed a difference in the student body attitude after this program.

"A large percentage of kids are affected," said Principal Andrew Marotta. "Those are the leaders. Those are the kids we're counting on to now put it in our hallways."

A club has been set up to encourage kindness yearlong. Bright is the club president and says it's the best time for students to come together and support one another.

"We also have an extremely small town, just like Newtown," said Bright. "I'm hoping that this program builds up contact and support for everyone because things like that can be avoided."

About a hundred kids attended the workshop and many signed up on their own.

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