The shooting at Arapahoe High School on Friday hit close to home for a school administrator in Windsor.
Karen Trusler, the superintendent of the Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District, graduated from Arapahoe in 1972 and said she didn’t want to believe it at first when she heard the shooting happened at her old high school, which has an enrollment of about 2,100 students.
“This shooting is so personal. When you realize it’s a reality, you think, ‘Why?’ It’s just so tragic and life is so precious,” said Trusler, who graduated in a class of 690 students. “It makes all of us pause, reflect and think about what’s important. Our students, our children ... they are what’s important.”
An 18-year-old male student carrying a shotgun wounded a 15-year-old girl, and was found dead from what law enforcement officials said was an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Arapahoe is only eight miles from Columbine High School, the site where 12 students and a teacher were killed by two students in 1999.
Saturday is also the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Trusler said she feels for the members of the Arapahoe community in Centennial and what they’re going through.
“Our hearts and prayers and thoughts go out to everyone,” Trusler said. “I have memories of the hallways and classrooms there. When I heard Arapahoe High School, I thought of those classrooms, I thought of the hallways, I thought of the students and the staff. I wondered and worried about them and how they were coping. I’m sure staff and students pulled together to help each other. They’re strong individuals which makes a strong team, and that’s just what I envisioned happened.”
Trusler said safety and security discussions in education circles are ongoing.
“It does not stop. It is the main distinction that I think how things have changed since Columbine,” said Trusler, who added that somewhere in the education field the mental health of students needs to be addressed in helping educate the whole child. “Safety is just as important as educating our children. We are vigilant and we are concerned. We put safety precautions in place, and we must continue to work together on the prevention aspects of taking care of each other. It’s everybody’s business. It’s the families, our community and our schools. We’ve got to keep working together on this.”
Trusler said once she was alerted about the Arapahoe shooting, the Windsor-Severance schools were alerted about the shooting and directed to be at a heightened awareness.
“That means double-checking the perimeter, making sure the exterior doors are locked, looking for unusual or suspicious activity,” Trusler said. “Law enforcement was out and about and stopped in at schools, and parent volunteers were present.”