Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Brighter Future


by Suzi Karrer

This summer, I was sitting reading the newspaper when I came across an article that Frank DeAngelis, Principal at Columbine High School, had announced his retirement after 34 years at the school.  I had the pleasure of listening and talking to Frank this summer as I attended a national school safety conference.  What sticks with me is hearing Frank talk about his commitment to return to Columbine, even after the tragedy had occurred.

I think everyone of us can recall where we were when we heard the news on April 20, 1999 that two gunman entered Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado determined to kill as many teachers and fellow students as possible.  After all was done, the two violent students killed twelve fellow students, one beloved teacher, and wounded many with their selfish actions.  The shootings at Columbine seem to be one of the events that marks each one of us in some way for the rest of our lives.  In fact I think that for most of us, all it takes is one phrase to conjure an emotional response:  Columbine, Platte Canyon, Aurora Theaters, Sandy Hook. . .

The question that always remains after events like these, is “Why?”  We know that only God truly holds the answers to these questions. As human beings, we can only look at the event surrounding tragedies to try to prevent them from reoccurring.

After Columbine, then Governor Bill Owens commissioned a full investigation into the events surrounding the tragic event.  The findings of the subsequent Columbine Commission Report (http://www.state.co.us/columbine) provide all of us a glimpse on why events like this happen and how we can prevent them; our best answer to “why.”  In the 100+ page report detailing emergency response and policy changes, an overriding theme shared in the report is that as parents, students, and a community we have a duty to each other to identify when a person is struggling or hurting. 

Time and again it is shown that intervening in the life of a young person who might be bullied, struggling with substance abuse or depression, or having suicidal thoughts CAN prevent violent events from occurring. 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”  2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ESV

How can we as a Christian community support and care for those who are struggling?  I challenge us to think about how we can begin to create a culture of caring in our communities, churches and schools.   How can we engage those who may be feel on the outskirts to walk with God, living in the WORD?  As a body of Christ, let us care for those who are hurting, mentor those young people who need role models, create an environment of welcoming, and be, “the change we want to see in the world.”

In the article about Frank DeAngelis’ retirement he provided a glimmer of hope in the wake of tragedies.  He said when people think about the Columbine shootings, he hopes they think about the teacher and 12 students killed and the lessons they left behind.  Frank said, “Hopefully that'll be inspiration for others to know it doesn't matter how much tragedy enters your life, there's hope for a brighter future.” 

Let US be that hope and future.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope,” Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV).



Suzi Karrer serves as the Director of Development and Partnerships for Safe2Tell (www.safe2tell.org), a non-profit partnership with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, which offers a way for all Colorado students and community members to anonymously report unsafe situations and risky behaviors helping prevent tragedies from occurring.  Since 2004, Safe2Tell has received and thwarted 282 possible school attacks in Colorado, as well as received thousands of tips involving bullying, substance abuse, dating violence, depression, suicide, and other concerning behaviors.  Suzi and her husband, Ben, have participated and led many small groups at BUMC, starting the First Friday Fellowship group and currently teaching the Love and Logic class.  Suzi and her family have been members of BUMC since 2007.

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