For Greenbrier High School Principal Gloria Hamilton, there are two events that have profoundly affected her life and the lives of those around her: Sept. 11 and the massacre at Columbine High School.
"Both of these had such huge impacts on every school, every student. They created changes we never thought we'd see. It's an anniversary you really wish you didn't have to recognize," she said.
April 20 marks the anniversary of what is now known simply as Columbine.
At Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. two deranged teen-agers massacred 12 students and a teacher April 20, 1999, before turning their guns on themselves.
It had the impact of a nuclear bomb with shock waves felt around the nation.
In the two weeks after the April 20 Columbine High School shooting spree, 18 threats of violence were reported to the Columbia County Sheriff's Office. In all, 37 incidents involving students occurred at Columbia County schools, including threats to bring weapons to school, possession of weapons on campus and disorderly conduct.
There had been other tragedies, school shootings in Littleton, Colo., Moses Lake, Wash., Jonesboro, Ark., Springfield, Ore., Bethel, Alaska, West Paduka, Ky., Pearl, Miss., Santee, Calif.
But April 20 stripped away any notion: "It could never happen here." The impact was hardest felt in suburban schools, those not prepared for what was to follow.
It was a day when school lockdown plans were written, emergency plans were put into action, telephone hotlines were established, drills were conducted and Trenchcoat Mafia was introduced into our vocabulary. It was a day when parents had to instruct their children: don't run, duck and hide instead. Take cover. Play dead.
For school administrators such as Columbia County's Associate Superintendent Charlie Nagle, it was a realization that the most significant threat would likely not be fire or tornadoes, but would be contained within school walls - a child at a desk, a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode.
"When I started teaching, we had two sheets of paper: one for tornado drills and the other for fire drills," Mr. Nagle said. "Now we have a crisis management book and a preparedness book for each school. Now we even have a code of conduct. In my day it was understood: you will behave. My how times have changed."
Harlem High School knows the horrors of shots fired in the hallways. One Harlem High student shot and killed another in 1993.
After the Harlem High shooting, Columbia County used some of its lottery dollars to buy video equipment to bulk up security.
The district also added a panic-button system to all schools, so teachers will have a constant way to signal the front office if trouble happens.
A walk-through metal detector was installed at Harlem High School and all other Columbia County middle schools and high schools are equipped with hand-held metal detectors.
Columbia County has hired and armed its own force of safety officers which are stationed at all high schools and middle schools.
Even with precautions like this in place, though, some students still manage to bring weapons to school.
In Columbia County, as of April 4 there have been 13 cases of students bringing weapons to school (no guns), one case of possession of bullets and 15 cases of terroristic threats, according to tribunal reports.
Columbia County school officials said the punishment for bringing a weapon to school is immediate suspension. Columbia County students appear before the hearing officer, who makes the final call on whether the child will be allowed to return to school, sent to alternative school or expelled.
In addition, school officials and teachers must be notified when a convicted offender enters their school or classroom.
But school officials know all the precautions in the world can't provide a guarantee that tragedy won't strike. Each year the anniversary of Columbine is a reminder of that.
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