19 Years Later

As the events of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting still circulate through the media and as students continue to take part in the marches and walkouts, it can make one wonder what it was like before school shootings filled the headlines. What did Rocky do before? What did they say after the first one? How did students and teachers handle this before? What ideas did they have to keep it from happening in the future?


Looking back into The Highlighter archives published in the weeks following the Columbine tragedy that took place a mere 74 miles away, students shared their opinions, ideas, and sent support out to the grieving school.

We were told, as teachers, ‘You cannot have this on in class.’

— Jay Dukart

Mr. Dukart, who was a teacher at Rocky when the shooting occurred shared his memories and insights into the events of that day and those that were to follow. When asked about the day itself, Dukart recalled a phone call from his father, who lived in Lakewood at the time, said, “Dude, do you know what’s going on down here?”


This prompted Dukart to turn on the TV in his room. He also shared that after calling the principal, “We were told, as teachers, ‘You cannot have this on in class.'”

When looking at the stories and reactions published in the 1999 edition of The Highlighter many kids had some of the same ideas and concerns that many students have been feeling over the past month.Following the Columbine shooting students revealed their questions and concerns about teachers being armed as well as the idea of having metal detectors installed.


When interviewing Dukart he commented on the fact that students after the Columbine shooting weren’t as exposed to these kinds of issues. “It just  wasn’t an everyday occurrence back then,” Duke commented. Students then didn’t have as strong of a reaction as this generation of high schoolers who have been leading the way for protests across the nation and even drawn attention internationally.


After the shooting in Parkland, Florida, many students called out for a change, angry that they hadn’t been made following the shooting that took place almost 19 years prior, but students then must have also been emotional and afraid, looking for solutions and supporting those affected by the tragedy.  


Articles published in an extra edition of The Highlighter three days following the shooting at Columbine High School talk about the ways that Rocky students showed their support through banners that were signed and sent to students and teachers still reeling over the losses of their peers. Students also donned ribbons with Columbine’s school colors.


Rocky students with personal connections to the victims of the shooting shared memories while others called for changes in safety. Discussions about responsibility for this loss of life ranged from guns to exclusion to the individuals themselves, topics that have littered the front covers and insides numerous editions of magazines and newspapers over the past weeks.


Although it seems like so much has changed since the shooting took place at Columbine High School, not much really has. While schools have made efforts to change, students are still having the same conversations about the same issues 19 years later.