Columbine students planning a day without division

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By AJ Vicens

As the 10th anniversary of the Columbine High shootings approaches, two Columbine students want everyone to know that they’re done.

“We are done with all the drama,” said Beau Loendorf, a Columbine High senior. “We are done with the hate.”

And so Loendorf and Columbine sophomore Olivia Leyshock are organizing a “Day Without Hate.” The pair hope the event, scheduled for May 1, will inspire students to forgo their cliques, forget about petty conflicts, and realize there’s no need for division.

The pair are building off an idea that started several years ago at Standley Lake High School in Broomfield, which held a Day Without Hate to commemorate the April 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech.

But Loendorf and Leyshock are taking the Day Without Hate to another level, as a total of 24 local schools plan to take part, including Dakota Ridge and Chatfield high schools and a host of middle and elementary schools. On May 1, students at the participating schools will be asked to wear white T-shirts to show solidarity and to demonstrate that the differences among people are often exaggerated. Loendorf and Leyshock will be selling white T-shirts for $5 each, with proceeds going to the Never Forgotten Fund, which awards scholarships each year to Denver area high school students in the name of each of the Columbine shooting victims.

Each school will have a 20-square-foot board that is cut into puzzle pieces. Students will sign the pieces between this week and May 1, and each school will build its own puzzle on the Day Without Hate.

While the event is designed to mark the anniversary of the Columbine shootings, Loendorf and Leyshock scheduled it on May 1 to give the community plenty of time for other observances. Loendorf hopes the Day Without Hate will be observed on the first Friday of May every year.

On the day of the Columbine shootings, Loendorf was a second-grader, and Leyshock was in kindergarten. And looking back a decade later, their chief goal is to encourage togetherness and eliminate divisiveness.

“When you look at Columbine now, you’ll see how far we’ve progressed,” said Leyshock “Things have changed, and the Day Without Hate is a reflection of that.”

And because of those changes, Leyshock doesn’t think it will be hard to get fellow students to participate.

“I don’t think it will be that hard at all,” Leyshock said. “Who wouldn’t want to back up something as good as backing up their community?”

Loendorf agreed.

“Once we get the message across, I really think a lot of kids will think this is actually cool,” Loendorf said. “It’s more than just wearing a white T-shirt.”

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.