6.24.12 : Columbine: Wounded Minds


by Samuel J Granillo on 06/24/12

          Time goes by WAY too fast, and so much has happened. The days have been busy, exhausting and time-consuming, but quite productive.  I’m finally able to dedicate the next couple of months, without working too much in the ‘real world’, to focus on what I’ve been dreaming about the past couple of months since we’ve last spoke.



As promised, I would like to share my experience with speaking out to a classroom full of students for the first time… I went to Columbine to talk to Mr. Leyba’s Honors English classes a couple of weeks before graduation. All 3 classes were pretty much freshmen, and each class was a unique experience indeed. I had never talked to anyone about my experience in a group setting before.


The day was long, emotional and filled with recounts of the year 1999. I showed each class the current trailer to the film, passed around the book ‘Candide’, that was damaged in the cafeteria, and began fielding questions for the class that has just finished the book ‘Columbine’, by Dave Cullen. I had asked Mr. Leyba why he decided to teach this book and he had a really simple answer. He said, “I didn’t choose it, the students did.”  He asked his class what book they wanted to read together and on student had raised his hand and said, “How about that  ‘Columbine’ book?” Kiki was hesitant to say yes right away, but the other classes were interested in reading it too. It sounds like it was a hard decision to make, but after a long meeting with the principal and countless hours thinking about it, it seems like he just wanted to give the students what they were all interested in, and if there was ever a time and place for them to all read it in a group setting, he figured it better be in his class. I could agree with that. I must admit I was confused at first of why he would ever teach such a thing, but after speaking with everyone and listening to what they all had to say, I am much more at ease with the idea, and support it very much.

Once I give my spiel the first question I usually get when I talk about my story is, “Did you know them?” referring to Eric and Dylan. This was the same for each class I spoke to. I try to put myself in their shoes and wonder why that’s always the first question I get asked. If this also happens to you and you have any theories, I would love to hear them. It fascinates me to see how curiosity works when dealing with tragedy.


During the first class I had the pleasure of Frank DeAngelis sitting in while I talked. He was very supportive and made me feel really comfortable. Every now an then he joined in on the conversation along with Mr. Leyba. The students got a unique opportunity to witness survivor banter as we chatted about out experiences. I also was visited by a current teacher at Columbine, as well as someone another visitor who came in from across town to listen to me specifically.


Out of the 3 classes that I shared my story with that day, one of the students asked me a question that I still can’t answer. He raised his hand and asked, “What can we do?” Seems like a simple enough question, but I just can’t seem to answer it. It has been lodged in the back of my brain ever since it was asked and I just can’t express in words what I wish I could say. How would you answer that? What can students today do to help up heal for the future?


This Wednesday begins a journey of one of the stories that will be unraveled in my film. I’m meeting up with Kristina Anderson, and filming an introduction that will lead us to where she lives in Seattle. She is a survivor from the Virginia Tech shooting, and is a founder of the Koshka Foundation. She is out here in Denver catching up with an old friend, and I’m taking the opportunity to say hello and film a great setup that will lead us to where she lives in Seattle.  Kristina has taken the time and effort to put together a fundraiser for Columbine: Wounded Minds, and will be taking place the week of the 23rd. The actual date and time has yet to be determined.


Seattle has had a rough last couple of weeks, and the community is in need of finding solace.  Just recently the community was subjected to a random shooting that left 4 dead, and the community’s wounds are still fresh. I think it’s perfect that Kristina and I will be in one place to share with the community our experiences and help them with finding a solution of their own. After all, we’re all connected and could use one another from time to time as a crutch to help us move forward.



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