Fort Mill Times

Public invited to ILHS homecoming bonfire

Behind the homecoming bonfire at Indian Land High School on Oct. 21, there’s a special message of kindness and acceptance being promoted by the school’s Friends of Rachel club.

The club, formed in memory of Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim of the 1999 Columbine High School mass shooting, is sponsoring the free bonfire from 6:30 to 9 p.m. that celebrates fall sports, recognizes the homecoming court and football team, and exhibits school spirit.

“This event brings students together from different organizations, sports and grade levels and really promotes an atmosphere where everyone is a part of a bigger purpose,” said Beverly Schroth, a chemistry teacher and Friends of Rachel club adviser.

The evening includes a bonfire, cornhole tournament, food by the JROTC program, and music and entertainment by the pep band, cheerleaders, dance team and step team. Indian Land residents are encouraged to attend.

For Sara Vess, the Friends of Rachel club president and varsity cheerleader, the bonfire is a great way to meet new people and experience the fun of homecoming.

“The Indian Land High School Bonfire is like no other event in our community,” said Vess, who enjoys leading her friends, fellow students and community in pre-game cheers.

The school’s Friends of Rachel club hosts several functions throughout the school year to encourage students to come together as a community and to embrace and accept everyone, Schroth said. It is the group’s third year organizing the homecoming bonfire, which happens to fall during October’s National Bullying Prevention Month.

In past years, the homecoming bonfire has been a success with hundreds of students and community members in attendance, Schroth said.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to socialize in a safe, fun and relaxed setting,” she said.

The effort embraces the mission of Rachel Scott and challenges students in five ways – dreaming big, looking for the best in others, speaking kind words, starting a chain reaction of kindness and choosing positive influences.

After the Columbine shootings, Scott’s vision for a better world was found by her family in her diary.

The Indian Land club meets at 8 a.m. on Monday mornings.

Vess believes the homecoming bonfire is a great time to get involved in Indian Land schools and channel the kindness and acceptance that Rachel Scott dreamed.

“As Rachel said, ‘You never know how far one small act of kindness will go,’” Vess said.

Want to go?

The Homecoming Bonfire will be from 6:30 to 9 p.m., Oct. 21 at Indian Land High School, 8063 River Road, Indian Land.