Columbine parents visit local schools

Nonprofit group hopes to boost good citizenship

February 10, 2005|By Michael Hoffman | Michael Hoffman,SUN STAFF

Linda Lou Sanders' husband was fatally shot at Columbine High School six years ago. Yesterday, she visited an East Baltimore school as part of a nonprofit group that is trying to prevent future Columbines and provide scholarships.

"It's actually good to be back in a high school," Sanders said during her visit to Dunbar High School.

Sanders is part of the American Students Fund, a group founded by local philanthropists that is providing scholarships and promoting good citizenship among teenagers.

In 1999, two Columbine students killed 12 schoolmates and Sanders' husband, Dave, who was a teacher at the Littleton, Colo., school. The two students then committed suicide.

Yesterday, Sanders and parents of slain Columbine students visited Dunbar. On Monday, they appeared at Randallstown High School in Baltimore County, and tomorrow they are slated to visit another county school, Woodlawn High.

"I just feel a presence of Dave when the students are so open to this program," Sanders said.

Carol Jean Young of Hunt Valley founded the organization with her husband, Jay, in the aftermath of the Columbine tragedy. Students at the participating schools vote to determine 13 character traits students should have to improve the school environment.

The organization will also award 13 college scholarships of $1,000 this year to students who exhibit the 13 traits, which include loyalty, responsibility, respect, leadership and courage. The number 13 is used to remember the 13 people who died at Columbine.

Sitting in the audience, Adrienne Marshall, a nursing teacher at Dunbar, said her students have accepted the organization's positive message.

The three Baltimore-area schools were recommended to Young by their respective school boards. The example of Columbine is especially relevant at Randallstown, where four students were wounded in a shooting incident in May 2004.

"This is just the start for this revolution that we've started," said Young, whose enthusiasm for the organization rubs off on the students.

"We are going to be able to use the success at these schools as a template to bring this to the 22,000 high schools nationally."

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