Schools observe Columbine anniversary |

Schools observe Columbine anniversary

— Local high schools are observing a statewide moment of silence at 11:21 a.m. today to commemorate the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre.

Steamboat Springs High School Prin-cipal Dave Schmid said there would also be extra security at the school today because of a regional musical competition.

Only Steamboat High School students in band will attend school today, he said. But there will be hundreds of others at the school from the middle and high schools bands in Moffat County, Eagle Valley, Summit County, Soroco, Hayden and North Park.

“We’re taking some security precautions because we’re going to have kids from all over northwest Colorado,” he said.

Schmidt said the Columbine anniversary had raised security concerns which are being addressed by having extra police at the school and requiring all students’ identification to be checked. Sponsors will have to wear tags, he said.

“The police will come and walk through and (Resource Officer Jerry Stabile) will be really visible,” Schmidt said.

The weekly broadcast of school news Wednesday included a look back at the tragedy, he said.

Soroco High School Prin-cipal Rich Coleman said the moment of silence was the only thing planned at Soroco in observance of the tragedy.

He said Soroco was profoundly affected by last year’s shooting and it was a difficult time for the school. He said the tragedy raised the issue of respect and how classmates treat each other.

In Littleton, where the tragedy occurred, the carpenter who last year erected wooden crosses for the 15 victims of the Columbine High School massacre returned to Colorado to restore the memorial as mourners prepared to mark today’s anniversary of the tragedy.

Greg Zanis wanted ”to honor the families of the victims,” his wife, Susan, said in an interview with the Associated Press from their Aurora, Ill., home.

His truck carried 13 crosses this time, in deference to one victim’s parents who had torn down the two crosses representing the two student gunmen. Both boys committed suicide after the rampage.

The Columbine massacre was the worst school shooting in U.S. history, and it affected thousands of people worldwide who watched on television as police circled the building and terrified students fled the school.

At nearby Clement Park, where the crosses were erected after the slayings, workers unloaded orange-and-white barricades Wednesday in anticipation of thousands of mourners at a public memorial service and a candlelight vigil planned Thursday.

Elsewhere, victims’ families organized memorial services to mark the day, and officials prepared for a statewide moment of silence.

The school itself remains off-limits to the public.

Davadas Moses, a doctor from Loma Linda, Calif., in Denver on business, tried to reach it Wednesday but was turned back by security.

”I just wanted to get a sense of it in my own mind,” Moses said as he walked through Clement Park.

Many survivors, still coping with their grief, planned to stay away from the services and the Littleton area Thursday.

Columbine’s attendance has dropped this week, with 263 of 1,885 students absent Tuesday, said school district spokeswoman Marilyn Saltzman. Attendance was ”way down” Wednesday but figures were not available by midafternoon.

”Most of the people I’ve talked to are trying to get as far away from this place as possible — the ones who were actually there,” said Karen Nielsen, who was working in the cafeteria when the first shots rang out.

Kim Blair, a Columbine senior who saw her friend Anne Marie Hochhalter wounded, planned to spend the anniversary with her family in a hotel.

”Everybody I know is going up to the mountains or trying to get away for the day at least,” Blair said. ”For some, it’s an emotional thing. Last year was so horrifying that they just can’t be anywhere near that place at that time.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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