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Porter was in the cafeteria when she heard the commotion. Even a fight at the school, she said, would have been unusual.“I remember thinking, ‘Maybe there’s bees in the school,’” she said.
Martin had similar thoughts about her school prior to the tragedy.
Columbine “seemed like any other high school in America,” she said.
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.
“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.
Two were high school seniors at the time who later became teachers, while a third recently retired from Columbine after more than three decades on the job.
Each of their lives was deeply disrupted by the experience, yet they emerged from trauma and grief committed to educating students.
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.