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“I have no idea why my brain went to that, but it was just loud noise.” When someone hollered a warning, Porter sought shelter under a cafeteria table before sprinting upstairs to a freshman biology class, where she again hid under a table.The teacher turned on a television and Porter watched live news about the shooting as it unfolded.
With its location in a well-off Denver suburb characterized by sprawling neighborhoods and strip malls, she recalls a school with a small-town vibe, enthusiastic school spirit and competitive sports teams.
On the morning of April 20, 1999, Martin was in the school’s choir room when shots erupted in the hallway.
Martin and other Columbine shooting survivors who work in schools witnessed that transformation firsthand.
Two decades later, the educators are still haunted by common school occurrences like fire alarms and large crowds of young people.
“That’s insidious — to feel like, on a daily basis, you’re not safe at school,” said Porter, who now teaches bilingual kindergarten in Mc Gregor, Texas.
“I always felt safe at school.” Before the shooting, she said, “I had no fears of being at school, and that is not true for a lot of students” today.
Columbine High School teacher Paula Reed, who worked there for three decades before retiring last year, was on the opposite end of the building from the area where the shooting unfolded.
When the fire alarms went off, she and her students walked outside casually.
Columbine was an idyllic school, she said, where the occasional student with marijuana was the most pressing concern.
“I worked at Utopia High School.” Because the Columbine building became a crime scene following the shooting, students attended class in the afternoon at a nearby campus for the remainder of the year.