Colorado Life Coach: Columbine, Aurora Theatre, Arapahoe High School

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As we drove down Dry Creek and approached University, the lump in my throat grew until I couldn’t contain the tears. We parked on Franklin and walked to the memorial. I signed the banner along with literally thousands of others. There were banners from my elementary and middle schools, from many other high schools, from churches, and even from a school in Wisconsin. The words “Pray for Claire,” formed by white cups in the chain-link fence, stopped me in my tracks. I prayed for Claire. I prayed for the students, teachers, and community.

I grew up in Littleton, Colorado.

I have friends who graduated from Columbine High School.

My kids almost went to the Batman midnight premier at the Aurora Theatre.

I graduated from Arapahoe High School in 1982.

17-year old Claire Davis died from a gunshot wound about the time I visited the memorial at AHS.

Feelings:

Pain, sadness, confusion, disbelief, grief.

I remember Columbine. It impacted me greatly. I graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Music Education and taught band at Arvada High School from 1989-1993. I imagined what the teachers and students experienced at Columbine. It was horrifying and unbelievable. Stories about the victims, the heroes, the shooters, and the community became regular news events. It was the talk of almost every conversation for a very long time. We visited the memorial with the crosses at Clement Park. Each cross represented a young life lost.

My kids wanted to go to the Batman premier. The only theatre that wasn’t sold out was in Aurora. They almost went, but decided to wait. We woke the next morning to the news. I told my daughter and her roommate, and they both cried. Once again, Colorado made the national news. The shooter lived in an apartment not far from where my husband grew up. This event also impacted everything. “Did you know anyone?” “Can you believe this happened in Colorado again?” “First Columbine, now this.”

We were on a cruise ship when I heard about Arapahoe. This time, it was MY school. It was MY home town. It was MY community. I have so many former classmates who still live in the community and have kids attending AHS. It’s a great community and many people want their kids to have the same great education they received. My friend Mike works at the bank across the street. Some of my high school friend’s parents still live within a few blocks of the school. People I know sat home waiting to hear from their kids. Students stood outside on the track in 30 degree weather for over half an hour, some frisked by police to make sure no one else was involved.

Thousands of students have graduated from Arapahoe High School, just celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary.

High school is weird. It can be a great time and a difficult time. It’s not supposed to be deadly. A student shot another student and then killed himself in my high school.

I’m not going to offer advice, try to solve the problems, speak about guns, or try to persuade you to think like me.

I just live in Colorado and hurt along with everyone who’s been impacted by these horrific events.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.

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