Jeffco students hold 'Vote For Our Lives' rally at Columbine

Posted 4/20/18

Hundreds gathered at Clement Park April 19, the evening before the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, for the Vote for Our Lives Rally organized by Jefferson County …

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Jeffco students hold 'Vote For Our Lives' rally at Columbine

Posted
Hundreds gathered at Clement Park April 19, the evening before the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, for the Vote for Our Lives Rally organized by Jefferson County students.
 
The event was aimed at educating people about voting and getting them registered to make their voices heard.
 
“We walked out, we marched and now we will vote,” said Sam Craig, Chatfield High School student and president of Jeffco Students United for Action. “We will not let the momentum of this movement die out. We are not going to allow ourselves and our friends to be slaughtered in our classrooms anymore.”
 
Jeffco students were joined by 60 students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida just two months ago.
 
“Two months ago Douglas faced what Columbine faced 19 years ago,” said Carlos Rodriguez, MSD student. “I have had two months to understand what it is like to feel alone. What it is like to feel despair. What it is like to feel pain. We have been internally scared. And now we share a common voice with those who have been affected by gun violence.”
 
The students from MSD who have turned their tragedy into action is what inspired Ava Lundin, a 15-year-old student at Bear Creek High School in Lakewood to join Jeffco Students United for Action and be part of the rally.
 
“I grew up always knowing about it Columbine,” Lundin said. “I can't describe how I feel about it. Even though I don't go to Columbine, we're still affected by it every day.”
 
The same is true for current Columbine student Rachel Hill.
 
“One thing a lot of people haven't discovered is how mass shootings have affected a community not for a month or a year after — it becomes and irremovable scar,” Hill said. “There's no way I can understand the immediate aftermath of the shooting at my school. But being a Columbine student now means I spent my first high school dance watching the exit doors because we received a threat to serious that it almost had to be cancelled. It means that just last week a group of tourists came to my school because to them it is a tourist attraction, not somewhere where I learn.”
 
Paula Reed, a teacher at Columbine High School for over 30 years, said that in many ways Columbine is the same as it was 19 years ago — a place where students find a sense of community. But there are also many ways it has changed.
 
Feeling safe is one of them.
 
Now, active shooter drills happen in the room she was teaching in 19 years ago when two students open fired on the school.
 
“There are some people who think that I would feel a whole lot safer and so would my students if I were armed,” Reed said. “What if I decide I want to. Does that change my stature? Does it change the ultimate outcome? Or does that just make me a 5-foot-2, middle aged woman with questionable judgment and a sidearm?”
 
Reed, who taught shooting victim Rachel Scott and gunman Dylan Klebold, said that to her it's important that people understand that by arming teachers you are not only asking them to protect students, but also to kill students.
 
“Maybe that sounds easy to you,” she said. “But I really can't imagine shooting Dylan. You're asking me to kill one of my students. It's too much to ask.”
 
Instead, Reed said she is asking elected leaders to make sure no teacher ever has to loose a student to a school shooting again.
 
“I'm asking leaders to pass meaningful legislation to keep guns out of the hands of children and teenagers,” Reed said.
 
Desiree Davis, mother of Claire Davis who was killed in the Arapahoe High School shooting in 2013, also advocated for legislators with "courage and mindfulness" to introduce and support legislation that will end gun violence in schools.
 
One way Davis and her husband, Michael, have already done that is through advocating for was is now known as the Clair Davis Act for School Safety, signed into law in 2015.
 
“Our society and our institutions failed Claire that day,” Davis said at the rally. “They failed to keep her safe in a public school. They also failed the boy who killed her. They failed to provide him the mental health and behavioral support he needed to find his footing in what he found to be a confusing and mixed up world.”
 
As a result, the Colorado law now requires schools to take reasonable measures to intervene and provide help when troubled students are identified as a threat to others.
 
“The Claire Davis School Safety Act is only one step of many that can be taken in this state and others to make students, faculty and administrator safe when they go to school,” Davis said. “Our story — Clair's story — is only one example and reminder that compassion and forgiveness is always a better path than anger and violence. It's also an example and reminder that the people we vote into office do make a difference in either improving or degrading our society. In responding in positive ways and resolving new problems as they arise or responding in negative, regressive ways and ignoring the problem completely.”
 
Davis encouraged students to celebrate their 18th birthdays by registering to vote.
 
“Know your own conscience and then vote your conscience,” she said. “It doesn't matter if a legislator has been in office two or 40 years, that legislator works for you when you vote.”
 
Ana Dahlstrom, a junior at Bear Creek High School, is looking forward to voting in her first election in November.
 
“It's our turn,” she said. “We need to step up because the leaders of our country can't or won't. And there has to be something done.”
While the main focus of the event was getting to the polls, it also served as a tribute to the thirteen students killed April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School.
 
“We stand here today on the eve of the 19th anniversary of the columbine tragedy,” said Emmy Adams co-creator of Vote for Our Lives. “These people may have thought their acts of hate would crush the community — like stomping on the flower with the heel of a boot. But they didn't know about the columbine. This flower, with it's beautiful petals and bright colors seems fragile and delicate, yet this flower is strong and sturdy ... They didn't know we would turn our loss into action. They didn't know that we'd choose love when they chose hate. We, like the columbine, will stand tall and fight through adversity … Rachel, Lauren, Isiah, Daniel M., Dave, Corey, Kyle, Steve, Matthew, John, Kelly, Daniel R., Cassie — you planted the seed, now we will bloom for you.”

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