School Violence: The Series (Columbine)

Columbine Colorado Shooting

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School Violence: The Series (Columbine)

Infographic by Ella Adams

Infographic by Ella Adams

Infographic by Ella Adams

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Writers note:
Even in school, a place that is supposed to be safe, students often deal with the threat of violence.  Join us to learn more about school violence, how to protect yourself and what students around the country are doing to fix this situation. The purpose of this series is not to scare, but to inform and open a conversation about what those in the school community can do to address this issue. This is the first of five stories in a series, stay turned for a new story each week.

 

A student sits on the floor, knees brought up to his chest as his friends around him do the same. The room is silent. The students are holding their breaths as to not inform the perpetrator of their presence. The only sounds to be heard are the footsteps outside the door, echoing down the hallway like a taunting click as they come closer. With each thump of the perpetrator’s foot, the students have a harder time staying silent. The constricting feeling in their chest increases, the dread of knowing who is outside that library door only makes their fear worse. And when they heard that unforgettable sound… their hearts drop. The twist of the doorknob, as the perpetrator opens it.

On April 20, 1999 there was a high school shooting and attempted bombing in Columbine, Colorado. There were thirteen fatalities.

“It was constantly on the news. If the television was on, every channel was covering the shooting,” said PAHS art teacher Ms. Lindsey Boncore. “It’s an unfortunate thing to even think about because I love teaching, I love teenagers, I love kids and I still can’t believe that any human being would do that.”

The shootings started at 11:30 in the morning on a Tuesday. The two perpetrators entered the parking lot where they had planted and sprayed pipe bombs. They walked through the parking lot shooting at parked cars and anyone in the lot. They then entered through the west entry doors and went immediately to the library, where most of their time was spent before taking their own lives.

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“I remember endless coverage on television,” said PAHS health teacher Mr. Carmen DiCello. “There was a frantic effort to discover number one, what happened and number two, why would it happen.”

Everyone involved has a different viewpoint on the events of the day. Craig Scott was trapped in the library while the shooting was happening. In disbelief, he held his two friends as they took their last breaths.

“I had a lot of anger, even rage toward the shooters at my school. I used to fantasize if I just had five minutes alone how I would get revenge on them,” Scott explained to Business Insider.

Melissa Miller, who was only 15 years old, took cover behind a truck. “I was terrified. They had no expressions on their faces. They showed no emotion; not anger, not hatred,” Miller told Scholastic Interviewer.

Even though the tragedy at Columbine happened over 20 years ago, teachers are not the only ones affected by this tragic event. Senior Collin Blankenhorn said, “I heard about the shooting on the news. I couldn’t think about anything else but the incident.” Even though it’s been years since the shooting, fear of an epidemic still lives on.

Jami Amo, a Columbine shooting survivor is currently working as a gun rights activist. Her Twitter is @AmoMeant. Her most recent protest was called “Moms Demand Action” where mothers around the world marched for their kids’ safety at the capital.

 

Next week this series will explore the Parkland Shooting.