Arapahoe High tragedy: Five years later

Mother of LPS students recalls 'terrifying situation' five years ago

Parent talks issues of 'normalized' school shootings

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My three daughters and I moved to Littleton from Northglenn in 2013, the year of the Arapahoe High School shooting. My oldest daughter, Izzy, started fifth grade at East Elementary, my middle daughter was in first grade, and the youngest was still a preschooler. Izzy was among the students who earned a limousine ride and a pizza lunch for reading that year.

The winners from her class piled into the limo and headed to a pizza restaurant across the street from Arapahoe High School. The kids had just finished eating and were packing up to leave when the shooting happened across the street. The restaurant was immediately surrounded by SWAT teams and police officers. The students inside knew immediately a girl at the high school had died, because every TV in the restaurant was blaring live news, and they could see everything happening out the window.

Nobody comforted them. Nobody told them they were safe. At least that’s how they remember it. The children sat in that pizza shop, staring at the high school, while the news rang from literally every corner. They sat there for nearly five hours, as I recall.

I wasn’t informed that Izzy was caught up in that situation until I picked her up after school. I had no clue that my kid was crying, terrified, surrounded by a terrifying situation with no comfort for hours on end.

I now have one child at Littleton High School, one at Goddard Middle School, and one still at East Elementary. None of them have been directly involved in a school shooting, but they all remember Claire Davis and what happened that day. And they know all about Columbine. And they don’t want to talk about the newer shootings, the ones that seem to happen weekly. They don’t seem preventable to them, because they feel adults won’t or can’t do anything to prevent it. The fear is always passively there, in every school hallway. They don’t want their teachers armed because they have seen some be frustrated, angry, or aggressive and don’t want to take that chance, either.

I don’t know that the kids have healed as much as they just don’t notice school shootings anymore. Can you heal from something like this if it so normalized?

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