Arapahoe High School Student Media

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Arapahoe High School Student Media

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Arapahoe High School Student Media

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Teachers reflect on AHS school shooting 10 years later

Ten years after the shooting death of AHS senior Claire Davis on Dec. 13, 2013, we sat down with three AHS teachers who were in the building that day. They reflected on the fear, grief and lessons they’ve learned through processing the tragic events of that day. An edited version of the interviews follows.

‘I put it on my arm to take my room back’

Brad Meyer, Social Studies

Social studies teacher Brad Meyer was holding a normal class on Dec. 13, 2013, preparing for finals. 

Then, two shots went off down the hallway.  

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“Within an instant, kids looked at me, and I looked at them,” he said. “We knew what it was.”

Meyer played a role that day as not only a teacher but also a father, as his daughter was a student in the building. With no contact for five hours following the shooting, it wasn’t until he was moved to a nearby church that he finally saw her at 7 p.m.

“Once we got over there, I went from being a teacher to a dad,” he said.

With the situation that day out of many people’s hands, Meyer says it cemented in him the belief that people can only control what they can control. Still, he saw a lot of bravery from both staff and students at the school that day. 

“We’ve got a custodian who risked his life to get the librarian away from the library,” he said. “We’ve got people going into situations that, rationally, maybe they shouldn’t.”

The investigation showed shooter Karl Pierson had room numbers written on his arm as places he intended to target, one of which being Meyer’s. 

After the shooting, several AHS staff got tattoos at a fundraiser as a remembrance of the day. Meyer chose to tattoo his room number on his arm. 

“I put it on my arm to take my room back,” he said. 

Following the shooting, Meyer’s daughter and her friend wrote a play called “13,” which he describes as 13 stories from 13 students taking place throughout the span of before the shooting to three years later. 

While the play was put on by gun violence groups, it was never approved to be performed at AHS, according to Meyer. 

“Sometimes we’re so hesitant to talk about experiences,” he says. “We didn’t come back together enough times to really honor what people were doing and had gone through.”

Ten years after the event, Meyer says he firmly believes that the best way to go about tragedies is by looking for the good in life. 

“Life is too short to focus on the negative,” he said. “I get frustrated with people who whine and complain a lot instead of finding solutions and finding the positives, and I think that’s probably how it hit me.”

 

‘I’ve never seen so much support coming out of it’

Adam Wallace, Science

Science teacher Adam Wallace was in class when he heard the shots and, at first, thought it was a chemistry experiment. But when he walked down the hall to check it out, he quickly discovered what had taken place.

Ten years later, Wallace says the events ultimately brought the Arapahoe community closer together. 

“Unfortunately, it has put us into a club now–that of school shootings,” he said. “It’s something nobody wants to belong to.” Still, he adds, “I’ve never seen so much support coming out of it.”

Wallace also says that when facing those who want to cause harm, it’s important as a community to answer. 

“If bad people want to do bad things, they can,” he says. “Now, how you respond to that, that’s on you.”

Once response to the violence of 10 years ago was the creation of AHS’s annual Deliberate Acts of Love and Kindness Week, which aims to encourage people to show compassion.

“I think the message is great,” Wallace says. “That’s what Claire was about, and honoring her that way. I think we’re doing a pretty good job as far as recognizing her.”

Wallace says processing and reflecting on the events has made him really try to find the joys in life and live life to the fullest as much as he can. He also tries to encourage students to understand things will get better. 

“If you don’t like high school, then work as hard as you can to get out of high school and go do something that you love,” he says. “If you don’t have friends here, there are 8 billion people on this planet. … Go out in the world and find your peeps. That’s a lesson I’ve gotten out of this whole thing.”

 

‘Everybody had to be a part of the mural’

Maura Moritz, English

When students returned to school in January of 2014 following the shooting, English teacher Maura Moritz and her senior World and Literature class decided to paint a mural in the back of her classroom as a way to come together and heal. 

The mural features a Warrior head with the message “Warrior Strong,” as well as a mountain range and handprints. 

“Everybody had to be a part of the mural,” she says. “They all put their hands [on the wall] and they could write anything they wanted in their handprint. They could write what they were doing in their future, they could write about memories of Arapahoe, it didn’t matter.”

The project took about six weeks, and at the end of the school year, the class held a commemoration. 

Moritz, who has been teaching for 26 years, says the greater community really came together after the tragedy. 

“The community really picked us up,” she says. “Every day, there was food from somewhere for the staff. … It was lovely and people were nice but it was a jarring moment in my career for sure.”

 

Warrior Strong –

https://arapahoextra.com/14196/news/warrior-strong/

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About the Contributor
Anna Olson, Editor
Anna Olson is a Junior and this is her third year on The Herald staff. She loves to write and strives to study journalism in college. Outside of school, Anna plays volleyball, listens to some good tunes, and enjoys silly times. She is so excited to return to the Herald this year.

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