Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

School Official Shares `Lessons Learned' at Columbine Striving for Safety Cities Urged to Implement Security They Want

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

School Official Shares `Lessons Learned' at Columbine Striving for Safety Cities Urged to Implement Security They Want

Article excerpt

JEKYLL ISLAND -- Jane Hammond admitted yesterday that she once was like many other educators nationwide -- concerned about school shootings but confident such violence could never touch any of her campuses.

On April 20, Hammond watched horrified as the brutal truth unfolded at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., and was broadcast nationwide on television.

Two seniors heavily armed with guns and homemade bombs killed 12 other students and a teacher, and injured 23 others, before killing themselves.

"I never thought something like that would happen at Columbine. That sort of thing happens somewhere else. None of us thought it would happen to us. We were wrong," Hammond said.

Hammond, superintendent of the Jefferson County School District that includes Columbine, discussed the shooting and its lingering aftermath with more than 1,000 Georgia educators gathered yesterday at the Jekyll Island Convention Center.

Hammond was a guest speaker at the 1999 Georgia Association of Educational Leaders summer conference that began Sunday and ends tomorrow morning.

In an effort to help ensure that none of the Columbine victims died or were injured in vain, Hammond has been sharing her experiences and the "lessons learned" from the shootings with educators nationwide.

"We became the symbols of the worst fears across the nation," Hammond said yesterday.

She emphasized that no one and nothing can guarantee any school is 100 percent safe, but administrators can prepare for the worst and take preventative measures to keep such tragedies from happening. Still they must realize and accept that some circumstances are beyond their control, she said.

"I want to look every parent in the eye and say, `I can guarantee the safety of your child,' but I can't," Hammond said. "As a community, we must decide what security measures we want and implement them. …

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