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Twenty years after the mass school shooting at Columbine High School in suburban Denver, survivors and victims' families still grapple with significant, ongoing grief. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images)he first time Heather Martin experienced a lockdown drill, the traumatic memories from her past resurfaced.
A month before graduating from Columbine High School, Martin was in the choir room when tragedy struck.
On April 20, 1999, two students conducted one of America’s deadliest mass school shootings, killing 13 people before taking their own lives.
“Well, you know, I’m going to die in here and I’m a virgin and I will have never met Bruce Springsteen,” she recalls telling a friend.
About three hours passed before the police burst into the office and escorted the students out of the building.
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.
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 had similar thoughts about her school prior to the tragedy.
Columbine “seemed like any other high school in America,” she said.