JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Frank DeAngelis was the principal of Columbine High School when two gunmen opened fire on April 20, 1999, killing 12 students and a teacher. After the shooting, he made a promise to stay in the school system until all students enrolled at the time graduated.
It would have been understandable for him to walk away, but a pastor whispered something in his ear.
“He said Frank; you should have died that day. God has a plan you need to go rebuild that community,” he told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger.
Columbine is a community he joined in 1979 as a coach and teacher.
He became principal in 1996. On the wall of his office were many honors and mementos. But what stood out were the names of those who were killed at the school 20 years ago.
“Every morning I wake up I recite the names of the 13 gives me reason for getting up and doing what I am doing,” DeAngelis said.
He doesn’t want their deaths to be in vain. So now, he heads up a recovery group of principals from cities where school shootings have taken place.
He told them, “I know where you are right now many of you are in your first, second year, third year. I am in my 20th year and there is hope.”
Columbine has indeed changed and grown from the tragedy, focusing on rebuilding and strength from the community.
Scott Christy is now principal of Columbine High School and says he doesn’t mind at all when his school keeps coming up whenever another terrible incident occurs.
“I hope they look to Columbine to see what can happen, how they can rebuild, what it can become,” he said.
DeAngelis retired from Columbine in 2006, but it will always be a part of him.
“I’m going to continue to speak on behalf of all the people. The 13 who lost their lives, the 24, and that’s my mission in life.”