Former Columbine principal talks kindness, understanding at Weedsport

Frank DeAngelis said there is not a single day that goes by where the 13 people killed at the Columbine High School shooting don’t enter his thoughts.

DeAngelis, who was the principal at the time of the 1999 shooting, spoke to a crowd of over 45 people at Weedsport Junior-Senior High School Wednesday. He began his presentation by showing the name and faces of the 12 students and one teacher who died.

“If you would have told me that a Columbine could happen at Columbine, almost 20 years ago, I would have said, ‘No,'” he said.

On the night of the shooting, he told himself that though he could not bring those men and women back, he would do everything within his ability to speak on their behalf to ensure they didn’t die in vain, he said. While people see recent well-known shootings in areas such as Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, people don’t see the potential incidents that were stopped “because of things we’re doing differently now.”

DeAngelis, who remained at the high school until 2014, said that when he first heard about gunfire at the school, he immediately assumed it was a prank, as the school hadn’t even had many fistfights in his tenure. He said he had a great deal of support following the tragedy from family, friends and the superintendent of the district who encouraged DeAngelis to remain at the school. He said his faith helped him as well, though he said he wouldn’t preach to anybody.

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