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Columbine Survivors 10 Years Later

Updated on March 15, 2013

April 20 1999 - Columbine Remembered

April 20, 2009 marked the tenth memorial of the Columbine massacre. Most of us remember the events of that day with vivid clarity. We remember the victims who lost their lives and those responsible, but what happened to the survivors of the massacre at Columbine High?

Yes, there were survivors and they didn't merely survive the firearms that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold carried; they have had the courage to survive every day since. A survivor is someone who has seen the worst that humanity has to offer and still refuses to let go of their hope.

Even those who simply went on to become loving spouses and parents, who promised that the violence ended with them, did their part. They did more than most of us will ever do in a lifetime.

The life of another only becomes more precious when you have accepted how fragile your own life really is. Despite their experiences, many of the survivors of the Columbine High school shooting are determined to replace hate with hope.

Columbine 10 Years Later

Teaching From the Heart

It is difficult enough to imagine surviving a school shooting, but Mandy Cooke, Alise Williamson Steiner, Katie Tennessen, Brett O'Neill, and Cris Welsh did even more than that, the returned to Columbine High School as teachers.

Columbine is their school after all, and they say they couldn't imagine teaching anywhere else.

Read their amazing story here... 10 Years Later, Hope Triumphs At Columbine

Lessons From Columbine

Five Columbine survivors who went on to become teachers.

Very nearly the 14th victim, and one of the most seriously injured of the Columbine survivors, and is Anne-Marie Hochhalter. Left a paraplegic, it was difficult at first for her to move on with her life. Then her mother committed suicide. She had already suffered mental illness prior to the events at Columbine, and her state had only worsened. After this, Anne-Marie struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts.

It took Anna Marie awhile to get back into life, but she has blossomed into a beautiful, intelligent, and very capable young woman. She got a part-time job at a retail store, where she has worked for seven years while pursuing a bachelor's degree in business with an emphasis on management.

She is living on her own and has learned how to drive again. She has also developed a strong friendship with the Sue Townsend, who lost her step-daughter in the shootings.

Her father is a school safety advocate and now trains parents on how to respond to emergencies.

Surviving Columbine

When we think of Columbine, it is hard not to remember Patrick Ireland. He was the boy we saw fall from the window into the arms of a SWAT team member below. Patrick had been shot twice in the head and once in the foot.

It took him three hours to crawl across the library and make it to the open window. The image of him falling from the window might be fresh in our minds, Patrick has no memory of it. His injuries also left him paralyzed on his right side. He had to relearn how to walk, talk, and eat again.

Patrick went on to graduate from Columbine High School as class valedictorian. He attended university and excelled there as well. He is now married, and successful in many areas of his life. "We have a choice in how we live our lives," says Patrick. "You wake up every single day and have a choice as living as a victim or a victor. When you choose to be a victor, you have so much more positive impact on how people view you and the way you want to live your life."

The Boy in the Window

Frank DeAngelis has been the principal of Columbine High School since 1979. He was there that day as shots rang out. His life was spared that day, and he does not take that for granted.

He led 20 students to safety that day and did not suffer any injuries, but the emotional scars ran deep. After Columbine his marriage crumbled, and he suffered anxiety attacks and survivor's guilt.

Through counseling and faith he made it through, and committed to sticking it out at Columbine until the kids who were freshmen that day graduated, but now he says he is planning on staying until those children who were in Kindergarten in 1999 have graduated.

He survived Columbine that day, and he has survived every day since. He no longer mourns the lives lost that day, including that of good friend and teacher Dave Sanders, instead he prefers to celebrate their lives. Seems he will remain at Columbine as long as he feels the students there need him.

He is also engaged to be married to his high school sweetheart.

"We will never get back to normal, we just had to redefine what normal is."

Craig Scott was only sixteen when he found himself trapped in the library while the shooters killed many of those around him. He escaped to safety only to find that his sister Rachel, 17, was one of the first people killed.

From that day on he dedicated his life to spreading a message of hope and love throughout America's schools. Through "Rachel's Challenge," a nonprofit started by his father, Craig promotes school safety through compassion.

He has spread his message to over a million people through public speaking, and plans to continue reaching out to others through film making.

Spreading the Word

Many movies have been produced about the events surrounding school shooters, but one writer/director has decided to focus on the survivors, and this one happens to come directly from the mind of an actual survivor.

Drawing heavily from his experiences that day and the days that followed, this writer and director tells the story from a new point of view. This story is fiction, so no rehashing of the Columbine tale is here, but what you will find is a well told story that all but leaves the shooters out of it. The shooter is mentioned only in passing, and the only video of the shooting is done in the form of reconstructed surveillance footage.

April Showers opened on April 24, almost ten years to the day after the shootings occurred.

"April Showers" Trailer

April Showers on DVD

April Showers
April Showers

I finally got the opportunity to see this movie and moving doesn't begin to describe the emotions this screenplay lays out. Very close to actual events, this fictional shooting is filmed through the eyes of someone who has been there.


Columbine Inspiration

Several Columbine survivors have gone on to share their stories in their own words. They were just normal American kids who went to school that day expecting nothing more exciting than a pop quiz, and in an instant their lives were changed.

Columbine Survivor Stories

There are many sites dedicated to Columbine. If you would like to know what has happened to some of the other survivors, please be sure to stop by and check them out.

What has changed?

The addition of armed security, metal detectors, and strip-searches already had an effect on American schools before, but after Columbine we were terrified. Some insisted on tighter security, turning schools into prisons to prevent them from becoming warzones. Many schools now practice lock-down drills along with the standard fire drills.

What good has come from Columbine?

Many survivors realized that there had been enough hate. A large portion of students went on to become teachers, social workers, and activists for the cause of peace.

A victim is just a passive part of outside circumstances, but a survivor reaches out in whatever way they can to make a difference. Ten years later, many of the students who faced a brush with death have forgiven their attackers, and gone on to live successful lives.

Anti-bullying programs have been implemented in many schools, and they have worked. When students are taught to focus on compassion for other students, they learn to become observant and pick up on cues before it is too late.

When nearly half of American students polled said they didn't think teachers care about them personally, it was a wake-up call, and some schools and teachers actually listened. In schools where teachers take an active role as mentors, students open up to them more readily, they tell them when a student threatens to bring a gun. As a result, many similar plots have been prevented from becoming reality.

More parents now understand the danger signs, and are more likely to take action when a problem grows beyond their control.

Black box warnings are now required on anti-depressants and more people are aware of the dangers they pose for teenagers with still-developing brains.

We are overall more aware of the suffering of others, and that is important.

Yes, we have learned some of the lessons Columbine presented us with, but we still have a long way to go. School shootings continue to happen, and until we find a way to stop them entirely we still have many more lessons to learn.

Yet many of those survivors have something in common as well, perhaps the most important lesson of all...

"So these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love."

~1 Corinthians 13:13

Susan Klebold and Oprah Magazine

"I Will Never Know Why"

For most of the ten years since Columbine, the parents of the shooters have remained silent. Much of that silence was misunderstood; with the number of lawsuits and legal actions pending, they really couldn't say much, even if they wanted to. Still, many have seen their silence as some sort of admission of guilt.

Susan Klebold has finally broken that silence in an essay that she wrote for O, The Oprah Magazine. She tells a heart-wrenching story of a mother who has spent every day since the events at Columbine asking herself what she missed.

We must not forget that Susan Klebold is a survivor too. We can only imagine what her life has been like since that day, the hell she has had to endure. She too lost a child, but she has to live with the added deaths of fourteen others. She too struggles to understand what her son did that day. She knows a nightmare that none of us can even begin to understand.

According to Oprah:"Since the day her son participated in the most devastating high school shooting America has ever seen, I have wanted to sit down with Susan Klebold to ask her the questions we've all wanted to ask-starting with "How did you not see it coming?" and ending with "How did you survive?" Over the years, Susan has politely declined interview requests, but several months ago she finally agreed to break her silence and write about her experience for O. Even now, many questions about Columbine remain. But what Susan writes here adds a chilling new perspective. This is her story.

Read the full article on the website... "I Will Never Know Why"

(Image source:Oprah Magazine)

Columbine 10 Years Later

In Loving Memory

(The following is the description for the video, but youtube formatting made it difficult to read, so I reformatted it here. I agree with the creator fully, REMEMBER)

March 24, 1998, in Craighead County, Arkansas, near northwestern Jonesboro. The attack was carried out by Mitchell Johnson, age 13, and Andrew Golden, age 11.

Buell Elementary On February 29, 2000, 6 year old Dedrick Owens found a .32 caliber handgun in his uncle's home. During a class changing period, Owens shot classmate Kayla Rolland. At 6 years old, Rolland is believed to be the youngest school shooting victim in U.S. history. T

Red lake High The Red Lake High School massacre was a school massacre that took place on March 21, 2005 in which Jeffrey Weise, a student at Red Lake High School in Red Lake, killed seven people including a teacher and a security guard. Weise shot his grandfather, Daryl "Dash" Lussier, with a .22 pistol while Lussier was sleeping.He shot Michelle Sigana, Lussier's girlfriend when she returned home.Weise then drove his grandfather's squad car to school. He proceeded down a hallway firing at students, killing five students and a teacher and injuring seven others.

Columbine High A school shooting took place on April 20, 1999, when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and one teacher, and wounded 24 others, before taking their own lives. The massacre made headlines around the world, making Columbine a household name, and causing a moral panic in American high schools.

Virginia Tech April 16, 2007, on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, United States. Seung-Hui Cho, killed 32 people before committing suicide, making it the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

Thurston High On May 20, 1998, student Kipland "Kip" Kinkel killed his parents. On May 21, 1998, he arrived at class at Thurston, murdering 2 of his classmates, Ben Walker and Mikael Nicklauson, and injuring 25. Kinkel was subdued by fellow students, at least one of which had himself been shot.

Platte Canyon High School an incident that occurred at Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, Colorado, on September 27, 2006. 53-year-old Duane Roger Morrison entered the school building, claiming to be carrying a bomb. Morrison took six female students hostage and sexually assaulted them, later releasing four.

Note from creator: A video about the many people that are killed in school shootings. Never forget them. Songs used in film. I had to change the song to: "Tippy's Demise" by Stars of the Lid Sorry, I couldn't couldn't give credit in the video to the new song because I couldn't update the video. I got many of the photos from photobucket. acolumbinesite Westside Middle Buell Elementary Red lake High Columbine High Virginia Tech Thurston High Platte High Weston High Rocori High Henry Foss High Santana High Campbell High Westside Middle

Those who survived Columbine should serve as an inspiration to the rest of the world. Normal kids who walked into a school one day had their lives changed forever.

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    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Thank you for writing this. Very painful to watch. One thing I noticed in the video with Anne-Marie is her mention of media requests and the stress that put on her, and her family, on top of everything else. I take great issue with the press so persistently dogging these victims; I would include in that those kids who witnessed it, or were even on campus that day. We had a school shooting here in the Pacific Northwest in Marysville WA at Pilachuck High School. It was so devastating to these kids and there are reporters sticking mics under their noses grilling them for information. I felt so strongly about it I wrote to my elected officials, newspaper letters to the editor, and a hub. As you can see in your videos here, the damage that day and it's event had done to those that were there was profound. They have come along way, but as one said, their lives have never been the same.

      These people in your article who have gone on to be teachers is heartwarming. Anne-Marie has gone through so much too, and what a nice young lady she is.

      Looks like you were hacked by Subha above.

    • profile image

      Subha 2 years ago

      Between me and my husband we've owned more MP3 perlyas over the years than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I've settled down to one line of perlyas. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.

    • profile image

      Jodecy 2 years ago

      Your post has litfed the level of debate

    • ayngel boshemia profile image

      Ayngel Overson 4 years ago from Crestone, Co

      @PeterStip: Thank you for remembering with me.

    • PeterStip profile image

      PeterStip 4 years ago

      Guns should be banned. Period. Every gun is made with the purpose to use it one day. You do not buy a thing and never use it. That's the danger of guns. They will always be used, maybe not by the person who bought it, but more likely by it's son or daughter...

      Great lens. We should not forget.

    • vineliner57 profile image

      Hal Gall 4 years ago from Bloomington, IN

      This happened on my birthday. :(

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      You have done us a great service by creating this lens. Thank you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      wonderful lens and tribute to the survivors and the lost in such an awful tragedy. Well done.

    • fugeecat lm profile image

      fugeecat lm 6 years ago

      This is a really great! Its good to see people who do not focus on just the events that day which was horrible, but those who have lived life beyond that day.

    • rorymullen lm profile image

      rorymullen lm 6 years ago

      May our memories ring forward for all who was impacted by this crisis 12 years ago. God Bless

    • profile image

      miaponzo 6 years ago

      Thanks for doing this important lens!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      This is an important lens. I appreciate what you have so thoughtfully shared. Thank you!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Here are some April Angel Blessings for a very moving story. I had forgotten how long ago this happened - it all seems so close in time.

      Featuring your lens on "Good Lenses Deserve Angel Blessings"

    • joanv334 profile image

      joanv334 6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing!

    • moskit profile image

      moskit 6 years ago

      What strength these survivors have to pull through and build happy lives for themselves even after such a terrible experience.

    • javr profile image

      javr 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      11.5 years ago now. Wow. My thoughts are with the victims.

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 6 years ago

      Just revisiting this wonderful lens to give it a weekend blessing.

    • profile image

      jgelien 6 years ago

      Thank you.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      Amazing lens. So much thought and research. This is a star!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I don't think any of us who have never faced anything like this can begin to realise what these people went through.

      In the UK we have had the occasional similar mass shootings - the last one in a school was in Scotland in a school at Dunblane. One of the survivors was Andy Murray - the tennis player.

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 6 years ago

      Yes, they are an inspiration and it was so interesting to see what these survivors are doing with their lives. I would say that they have done a lot to help others since the tragedy. The article by Mrs. Kiebold was fascinating and shows how extra vigilant we need to be. I really felt for her as a Mom.

    • rachsue lm profile image

      rachsue lm 7 years ago

      What a great tribute. We all sat and watched in horror that day. They will never be forgotten. You lens reminds us of the tragedy we watched that day. Our society isn't perfect, seeing children going through so much trauma is not right. That day will never be forgotten.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Blessed by a Squid Angel

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 7 years ago from USA

      This is a wonderful tribute to the survivors of that horrendous day.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 7 years ago

      This horror was played out on Australia television and we were equally as horrified as our sisters and brothers in USA as the drama unfolded. A well done and timely report on home grown terrorism spawned by religious fanatics and power. *-*Blessed*-* and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust and also on Child Abuse

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      A lot of time has past, but the survivors still carry great emotional scars. The horror what took place at Columbine is a disgrace to our government leaders then.

    • profile image

      Joan4 8 years ago

      Well done. I think all of us remember that day -- and held on to those children, survivors and not survivors - as if they were our very own. Beautiful lens. Blessed by a joyful angel. We must always remember.

    • ayngel boshemia profile image

      Ayngel Overson 8 years ago from Crestone, Co

      Thank you so much for the blessing, this lens is very special to me. I have become very attached to the victims of such incidents through my studies. It means a lot to me to hear they are doing so well. It means a lot to me that you appear to agree... So Thank you.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 8 years ago

      Blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 8 years ago

      I just watched "Bowling for Columbine" again last week...and was thinking that Michael Moore should do a follow up to document the long term affects this incident had on the community.

      Wonderful lens 5*