I am going to step out of my business shoes for a moment and write about history. Ten years ago this week a terrible tragedy was visited on the students, parents and faculty and friends of Columbine High School. It was a gray April day, and I remember it well. The faces of the 15 people killed in that horrific event are still clear in my mind. Among them were: Kyle Velasquez, the “gentle giant”; Lauren Townsend, the talented artist; the bespectacled straight-A sophomore Daniel Mauser and dedicated teacher Dave Sanders who gave his life to protect his students.
Since that time, there have been a dozen incidents of school violence across the United States and around the globe. While all of them are infamous and notable, the word “Columbine” still evokes a shiver among folks who remember April 20, 1999 as though it were yesterday.
For a generation of Colorado students, this event marks time they way the assassination of John F. Kennedy did for their parents. Every person knows where he or she was when they heard first of “a school shooting at Columbine High,” followed by reports of a potential hostage situation and video of children fleeing what should have been the safest of havens.
Today, school violence happens with alarming frequency. Still, our schools continue to be bastions of hope, optimism and learning—the place our future is nurtured and our country’s best commodity is found. The principal of Columbine High School that day was Frank DeAngelis – and he continues to steward Columbine every day, knowing that one event does not define his school, regardless of how tragic it was.