"We're from Columbine couldn't be prouder and if you can't hear us we'll yell a little louder!" This is a chant that I heard at many football games during my three years at Columbine. For so long it when you mentioned you went to Columbine people looked at you like you were the luckiest person in the world......twelve years ago that look morphed into pain and surprise. Twelve years ago two young men decided that they had been bullied beyond repair and that they were going to seek retribution for the wrongs they felt had been done to them. Were they both a bit unbalanced? Most definitely. Was the bullying out of control? No more so than for any other students. Was this act of terrorism necessary? In some forms it was. Not that lives were lost and hearts were shattered, but for the very fact that on that day people came together, friendships were renewed and we became aware that it could happen in our own backyard.
I did not grow up in the Littleton School District like a lot of the kids I wound up attending high school with. In fact I spent most of my life in the Norristown School District up until ninth grade. We moved to Colorado in 1980. We drove across country right after my mother was declared healthy enough to make the trip (she had had a heart attack three weeks prior) and we arrived two days before my 15th birthday. My parents had finally found a house, but we could not go to settlement until July so we spent June in a hotel. When we eventually got to move into the house I was told that I was going to be attending Columbine, a year round school. Ummmm excuse me, year round? That meant that I would be in school all year with breaks in between. Because I was a new comer I was assigned to track "B", which meant my vacations were from the beginning of April to the beginning of June and October to December. I was not too sure of this whole set up, but was willing to give it a try. Honestly, it was the best experience of my life. Not just because of the people I met, but because my education was well rounded, I had not burned out and lost a lot of momentum during the summer and I was really prepared to enter college. Many times I have regretted that schools here in PA are not willing to give the concept a try when classroom sizes become a problem and teacher burn out escalates.
I was always proud of my diploma from Columbine and the accomplishments that I have achieved there, but on this day in 1999 that security that I had lived with was shattered. Two young men decided that they had the right to enter the building with guns blazing and bombs planted to seek retribution for what they saw were egregious wrongs done to them. My boys were three at the time and did not understand what mommy had suddenly started crying while listening to the news. But there is always a silver lining for every tragedy, some we can't see and others are as plain as the nose on our faces. Alumni that hadn't spoken in years reconnected, people scattered across the country came together through the wonders of the Internet and friendships were reformed. We cried together, we railed at the injustice of a lives cut short and we made it known that even though it happened in our backyard we were going to do everything it took to not have it happen again to our kids.
Today my heart is heavy as I remember what was taken from all of us...a simple thought, "Not in my home, not in my town, not in my school." But what we gained was so much more than that and the tears will dry tomorrow and I can say once more I am a Columbine Rebel, Class of 1984.