Columbine High School Principal Says He Will Retire

Columbine High School Principal Frank DeAngelis at a candlelight vigil at the Columbine Memorial at Clement Park near Littleton, Colo., in April of 2009. Chris Schneider/AP

Columbine High School Principal Frank DeAngelis at a candlelight vigil at the Columbine Memorial at Clement Park near Littleton, Colo., in April of 2009. Chris Schneider/AP

Frank DeAngelis, the Columbine High School principal who helped usher students to safety during the 1999 shootings, announced he will retire at the end of the 2013-14 school year.

As KMGH-TV reports, at the time of the shooting DeAngelis promised the then ninth-grade students that he would stay until they graduated. In 2012, he was there for the graduation of students who were in kindergarten at the time of the shootings.

The AP reports that DeAngelis stayed despite much personal suffering:

“DeAngelis was in his office the morning of April 20, 1999, when two student gunmen launched an attack on the school, killing 13 people.

“He shepherded a group of about 20 students to safety that day, and he survived with no physical injuries. However, he has said the shootings left him with severe anxiety attacks that felt like heart attacks. He said the attack contributed to the end of his marriage of 17 years because he didn’t want to talk about what he was going through.

“DeAngelis said he’s healthier now and believes schools everywhere are safer because people are now more likely to report suspicious behavior.”

“I know that I will shed a lot of tears, tears of joy and tears of sadness; and I know that the memories of my time at Columbine will last for a lifetime,” DeAngelis said in a letter to the school. “I am eternally grateful. Wherever my next journey in life takes me, my heart will always be with Columbine.”

DeAngelis told KMGH-TV that he hopes that people don’t just remember the tragedy at Columbine, but also the 13 victims and the lessons learned.

“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,” DeAngelis told the station.

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Columbine High School Principal Says He Will Retire