Battling bullying by supporting teens

Richard Basham, Bleached Pulp Mill Production Manager, Hawesville Mill

Effecting progress and positive change in our community is a passion at the Hawesville Mill. Our employees are active in everything from city council, to the local school board, to churches and sports teams. When Shayla Pierrard, the teenage daughter of our Maintenance Planner, Renae Pierrard, approached our management team to enlist our participation in Rachel’s Challenge as part of her Senior Project, I willingly accepted.

Rachel’s Challenge, named after Rachel Scott, one of the first students killed in the April 1999 Columbine High School shootings, is the largest bullying and violence abatement program in North America. Since its inception, over 12 million people have taken part in its school-based Chain Reaction activities, which are designed to:

  • Create a safe learning environment for all students by re-establishing civility and delivering proactive antidotes to school violence and bullying
  • Improve academic achievement by engaging students’ hearts, heads and hands in the learning process
  • Provide students with social/emotional education that is both colorblind and culturally relevant
  • Train adults to inspire, equip and empower students to effect permanent positive change

On the day of the event, I arrived at Hancock County High to assume the role of facilitator. The experience was incredible and eye-opening. There were high-energy games, group activities on issues like teasing, peer pressure and suicide, and deeper discussions on the topics affecting today’s teens. While a sense of fun and community prevailed, the messages being conveyed were powerful and meaningful to the participants of all ages.

“One of the things I immediately noticed when I became General Manager of the Hawesville Mill was the remarkable level of community involvement by our employees. They are incredibly generous with their time and talent. They truly care about making a difference and make a significant positive impact our community!” said Steve Henry.

My own son attends Hancock County High, and I feel strongly about the power of this program to make a positive impact on his peers and other kids across the U.S. If you are interested in learning more, or even hosting a Rachel’s Challenge event at your child’s school, you can find more information at