Columbine High School principal Frank DeAngelis received the Norma Anderson Lifetime Service Award at the annual Love Our Schools luncheon last Thursday.
“I’m truly blessed and humbled to receive this award,” DeAngelis told a packed luncheon at the Arvada Center. “Thank you.”
The award is presented every year by the Jeffco Schools Foundation and recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to district schools and their surrounding communities. The award is named for former state senator Norma Anderson, a Republican who represented Jefferson County at the Capitol for 19 years.
“Someone once told me, ‘If you choose a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,’ ” DeAngelis said. “As a teacher, coach and administrator, the job has been so rewarding.”
After 35 years at Columbine, 18 of those as principal, DeAngelis announced he would retire after this school year. He was principal during the 1999 schools shootings that killed 12 students and a teacher.
“April 20, 1999, my life changed forever,” DeAngelis said.
He recounted a conversation he had after the shootings when his pastor told him: “God has a plan for you. You need to go back and help rebuild this community.”
DeAngelis ultimately promised to remain the high school’s principal until he had handed a diploma to every student who was enrolled in Columbine area schools at the time of the shootings.
After this year, he will have fulfilled that promise.
“I had a parent come up to me this week and say, ‘I have a child in second grade — will you stay?’” DeAngelis said, prompting laughter from the crowd. “My worst fear would be one day to hear a student say, ‘You taught my grandparents.’ ”
DeAngelis thanked his staff and the district.
“I’m here today because of the wonderful people I’ve worked with,” he said. “Jeffco is a special place where people like me can do the work we do. I’ll always be a Columbine Rebel for life.”
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