April 20, 1999 was a day that changed our society and culture forever. The shooting at Columbine High School was the first “mass school shooting” I can recall ever hearing about. I was in 10th grade at the time. None of the students currently in school were even alive when this horrific event happened. I respect, and can understand the perspective of the Parkland shooting survivors who have had to endure their own tragedy and loss. And that is why I organized parents to step up and support the students on March 14th during the National School Walkout.
But I also understand and respect how Columbine High School has chosen to remember that tragic day in Colorado 19 years ago. Reading a letter from the current Columbine principal reinforced an important message of remembrance and solidified exactly how I and the Parents Step Up Parent Movement have chosen to mark April 20th this year.
In the letter, verified by 9News, Principal Scott Christy, wrote:
“This year April 20th is garnering more attention than usual in the national and statewide media. We wanted to reach out to students, school leaders and school communities to share what our tradition has been and invite you to join us. We know another walkout has been promoted by various groups. However, in Jeffco the month of April has long been a time to respectfully remember our loss, and also support the efforts to make our communities a better place. Please consider planning service projects, an activity that will somehow build up your school, or perhaps pre-Day Without Hate event on April 20, as opposed to a walkout. The Columbine survivors and Columbine community has supported our efforts as a way to hope and remember, and we encourage you to as well.”
Individuals directly impacted by tragic events often have different ways of processing their thoughts and emotions. Others may wish to show their respect and support for those directly impacted in different ways as well. As for the Parents Step Up Parent Movement, we will be supporting the requests of our local community and remembering that still 19 years later, “We are Columbine.” So we will not be supporting any school walkouts today, April 20th.
Parents, please talk to your children! Talk to them about their options and how they may provide positive impact. How will they help better the community? How can they help make long-term positive changes? Acts of service in our community and acts of kindness have a greater impact on the world around us then most people realize. Kindness costs nothing to give and can come with some of the biggest rewards and longest lasting changes.
So, as far as the Parents Step Up Parent Movement is concerned, we would like to see parents actually step up and lead by example for our children. Let’s show our kids how to be kind, helpful and how to serve our community without any expectations of reward or recognition today and every day.
My family and I will be doing random acts of kindness on behalf of ourselves, the Parents Step Up Parent Movement, and our Columbine community.
Kindness can be contagious! So, find what works for you, share your stories and pictures of what your family chooses to do today. Hopefully we can help inspire others to honor those in our community whose lives were lost and forever changed 19 years ago today.
Kim Crossland is a mother of four children ranging from kindergarten through ninth grade. Her kids attend public schools in the St. Vrain Valley school district. She is an advocate for parent involvement and engagement in Colorado schools.