A Memorial and a Message About the STEM Shooting

Logan Gilbert, Staff Reporter

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This week there was a shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado. It was my high school.

I went to elementary school at a feeder school to Columbine High School. There were days after school that I played in the park outside the infamous high school, alongside the statues and plaques that list names of students who lost their lives in the attack.

This is my candle at a vigil I could not be there for. This is it flickering as I shield it from the wind that would have it lost to history.

A few weeks ago was the 20th anniversary of the shooting. A woman flew from Florida to try to recreate it. Schools were shut down across the Denver Metro area, including my high school. Some order was reestablished to the lives of the students, and the body of the woman was found with the shotgun she used to kill herself. She was found in a forest less than 25 miles from my sisters high school.

There is something about growing up around a history so perfuse with the idea of gun violence that I wasn’t sure it was real. I never thought of it as anything more than a series of strange rituals and fears that people had. That was all until it happened to people I cared about.

Now, this isn’t an opinion piece about gun control. I know that I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said before that would convince anyone of any- thing. There have been countless articles and essays proposing how and why we got to the point in this country that shootings have become a part of life. Ideas of how this should be addressed conflict as tensions rise and more time is lost. Any solution, right or wrong, is all I would like at this point; anything must be better than going through these issues again and again without change.

So this is not politicization of the event. In fact, I despise the fact that politicians showed up at the vigil this week and started campaigning, using names of people I know as ammunition in their efforts to get a job. This is a memorial more than anything else, a memorial for Kendrick Castillo, who gave his life trying to protect others, a memorial for those that got injured both mentally and physically.

This is my candle at a vigil I could not be there for. This is it flickering as I shield it from the wind that would have it lost to history. The name Kendrick Castillo will be immortalized in ink, because it’s not much but it’s the most that I can give, to make sure people know his name a thousand miles away from where he saved lives.

I wish I could share a good story about him, something that could make this more personal, but I didn’t know him well. I know he was one of the best engineers in the whole school, I know he was hilarious and a lot of fun to be around, and I know that he really, truly cared about the people around him.

Now in another way, a way that hurts and feels wrong, this is a memorial for the shooters, and the shooting itself. It’s not to immortalize the act, or give fame to those that did this. In fact, I don’t want to say their names, I don’t want to give them that recognition. It’s not to vilify them either, they are not evil incarnate that we should yell and scream at. What they did, while immoral and gut wrenchingly horrible, was still a profoundly human act. The act of two people who felt broken and othered. This is for the children that they once were, the friends that they helped, the lives that they had before. That’s something I think gets lost somewhere in the grim spectacle of it all: that they are people too, people that needed love.

So what I am trying to say in a long winded, preachy, and probably pretty annoying kind of way is to just care about people. Love the people around you, love them for their virtues, savor them because they may be gone without warning. Love them for their vices even more though. If we see each other and care about one another then maybe we can stop a shooting.

Logan Gilbert, Staff Writer