Mrs. Alyssa Gill: A Tragedy She Will Never Forget

The marquee for Columbine High School (tumblr.com)

The marquee for Columbine High School (tumblr.com)

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Editor’s Note: The Columbine shooting was one of the first mass school shootings in America’s history. On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and 1 teacher in their high school. For more information on the event itself, please visit http://www.history.com/topics/columbine-high-school-shootings.

 

Most people assume someone like Mrs. Alyssa Gill, the school registrar, has a very standard day-to-day life. However, she’s had more significant experiences than people expect. She lived in Littleton, Colorado, when the Columbine High School shooting incident occurred and was deeply affected by the tragedy.

“I think you always lose faith in mankind when they do something so evil, and that’s exactly what this was, it was evil,” Gill said. “Back then, this kind of thing was unheard of. No one ever would have thought this would have happened.”

Gill was employed at the elementary and middle school campuses in Littleton. Part of her job was to enroll students who had previously attended the elementary and middle schools to Columbine High School. However, when the school shooting occurred, everything changed.

“Everybody knew of everyone, but I had specific friends who were victims,” Gill said. “If anyone had any idea this would happen, we would have gone to the police, we would have gone to anyone for help.”

Gill went to work with Tettco school. Their team and local law enforcement  gathered details about the occurrence. She quickly learned based on the information gathered that teachers throughout Littleton, Colorado, and the principal of Columbine, Frank de Angelous took the school shooting very personally.

“What’s hard for me is that the teachers did make complaints,” Gill said. “The teachers did say ‘Here’s some weird drawings that he made,’ or, ‘Here’s a note that Dylan wrote,’ so there was some evidence. It wasn’t looked at as thoroughly as it should have.”

After much time passed, Gill started to focus on the good outcomes of the school shooting, not the bad. She started to think of the wonderful students that she knew, and that brought her joy.

“There was Rachel Scott’s family who was very into a kindness campaign called Rachel’s Challenge, so it really just brought attention to not glorifying the event, but really to the children,” Gill said.  “There’ve been so many projects started because of them. Such wonderful beautiful projects that have just grown throughout the U.S., so we look at that, we don’t look at the event.”

Today, Gill encourages students, regardless of what school they attend, to take appropriate precautions and safety measures when it comes to school shootings. She wants students to ask themselves if anyone seems suspicious, malicious, or if anyone is afraid of something bad possibly going to take place. If so, they should ask an adult for help.

 “If they have any suspicions they need to come to anyone, even if it’s silly, just speak about it and talk about it so that we can stop this from ever happening again,” Gill said. “I know that our administration and this district go above and beyond helping students, so just keep that active communication open, know that it’s okay to say anything, and that they’re safe if they tell us something.”  

Even now, Gill reflects on her life and the lives of the people who are important to her. She thinks more in depth about people’s’ actions and the consequences that can result from bad decisions.

“I think it is just made myself and my family just more aware of surroundings and more aware of things going on,” Gill said. “In Colorado we’re taught different safety measures for when there is an active shooter, and it’s something here that I feel very passionate about that we do need to have a plan to protect all students.”

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