On August 23, 2013, 19-year-old Rachael Fiege died tragically when she fell down basement stairs after she had been at IU only 48 hours. Rachael’s First Week was born from her death. It was a program designed to address the overwhelming perception of invincibility experienced by high school seniors as they launch from home into adulthood at the beginning of college. Rachael’s Heroes are individuals who do the right thing out of compassion for others, even when that may not be the easiest path to take.
Mr. East, current Principal of Zionsville High School (ZCHS), is a very special person to the Fiege family. He, in fact, mirrored Rachael’s own progression through the Zionsville school system. Starting with becoming principal of Eagle Elementary when Rachael was in second grade. While Rachael was in middle school, he became the principal of Zionsville West Middle School (ZWMS), and then when Rachael moved onto high school, Mr. East was named the principal of ZCHS. Rachael was fortunate to grow up with Mr. East’s guidance and support through her school years. Mr. East was instrumental in helping Angi Fiege launch the RFW program at ZCHS to the class of 2014 for their Senior Day event. He has been a champion of the program from the beginning and recognizes how our message is reaching some of “his kids” positively equipping the students of ZCHS with the information they need to protect themselves and their peers as they are making the next step as independent young adults. Without his support and vision throughout the years the Fieges’ doubt if this program would have enjoyed its success. Mr. Eastencouraged Angi, her colleagues, and Rachael’s friends to come into to his high school ZCHS and speak freely and openly about tough issues our youth deal with on a daily basis. He gave the program credibility, which allowed
RFW the Rachael’s First Week program to provide programing for other area High Schools and Universities. Mr. East is a true hero and advocate for the Rachael’s First Week program.
James M. Danko
James M. Danko became the 21st president of Butler University in 2011. For the past four years at Butler’s convocation, he has shared Rachael’s story with the incoming class—as both a cautionary tale and as a call to action. He recommends that students visit rachaelsfirstweek.com to learn about making smart choices, and he asks them to intervene when they see someone in trouble. “Help someone out who doesn’t realize the kind of trouble that they’re in,” he said at the 2018 convocation. “We depend on each of you to watch over each other.” He is honored to have been named a “Rachael’s Hero.”
Ryan, a Purdue College student, while looking out for a friend and making good decisions, ended up saving a friend.
Shelby is the daughter of Sharyl Border, who is a huge part of our program. Shelby is a Rachael’s Hero! She made the call for a friend after an accident and ultimately saved her life. We thank Shelby for her bravery and strength in moment when people were telling her not to make the call.
For vision, tenacity, and technical expertise that got Rachael’s First Week off the ground.
About Rachael’s First Week
Rachael’s First Week is a program dedicated to
These can be tumultuous years when peers often look to each other for guidance as they encounter novel and potentially dangerous situations, rather than engaging experienced mentors to provide solutions.
The mission of Rachael’s First Week is to develop the decision-making skills of teens as they enter this time of monumental change in their lives.
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©2019 Rachael's First Week
©2019 Rachael's First Week