LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4)- Columbine High School principal Frank DeAngelis is retiring once this school year wraps up next spring but says he’ll always be a part of the community he loves.
DeAngelis is retiring from his leadership position after more than three decades.
Many of those who have known him credit him with helping families and students recover from the 1999 shooting that left 12 students and a teacher dead.
In DeAngelis’ office are mementos of 35 years of teaching and leading the faculty and student body.
In the library are the names of the Columbine shooting victims.
“I was feeling badly. I lost 13 people when I was in charge and I knew it was something I had to live with for the rest of my life,” said DeAngelis.
At Wednesday’s retirement announcement teachers, former students and law enforcement who were all part of that tragic day in Colorado’s history turned out to support DeAngelis.
It wasn’t a move that he came to lightly.
“This is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make,” said DeAngelis.
The popular principal will retire at the end of the school year, confident that the school is known for much more than a mass shooting.
“We will always remember what happened on April 20. That’s not what Columbine is all about,” said DeAngelis. “I’m hoping Columbine High School is in a better place than it was.”
Eric Friesen is a Columbine alumni who is now a teacher at the school. He said DeAngelis is the reason he wanted to return. He also said DeAngelis brought the community together in the worst of times.
“He is the greatest mentor I’ve had in my life. He’s an inspiration to move forward,” said Friesen.
Under DeAngelis the school won a state football championship and numerous academic honors.
DeAngelis said he won’t give up his key to the school because he plans to stay involved.
DeAngelis said he will work on his golf game in retirement. He’s also getting married this year.