Frank DeAngelis Brings Resilience, Recovery & Hope to The Winter Briefings
January 13, 2021 / by The “I Love U Guys” Foundation
Frank DeAngelis, former Columbine High School principal, long-time ‘I Love U Guys’ supporter and Board member, recently recalled a breakthrough moment with local news outlet The Colorado Sun. He was navigating a journey of trauma as a result of the tragedy that beset the high school he was charged with overseeing, and after sleepless nights, no food, and an empty tank, an outpouring of emotions from his students made him realize something critical. Dealing with trauma isn’t about being strong. You have to be “strong but…also vulnerable.”
Frank’s presentation for The Briefings, A Marathon, Not A Sprint, encapsulates what he brings to the community. Strength and vulnerability.
We’re as pleased as ever to welcome Frank’s steady light back to this year’s conference. The need for resilience in the wake of challenge and tragedy is our shared mission, and something that transcends school safety. Twenty-one years after Columbine, Frank connects his hard-learned lessons to the daily hardships we face today during the pandemic. We’re honored to share a sneak peek into what you will hear from Frank at the Briefings next month.
The Winter Briefings are February 4-5. If you haven’t already, you can register for the Winter Briefings here.
“My number one concern after the tragedy was to rebuild the community.”
Shortly after the violence that would redefine so many of our lives, a priest broke through Frank’s cloud of survivor guilt by impressing upon him that he lived in order to rebuild the community: A gift, he said, to fully engage in communal healing. With that corner turned, Frank first dedicated himself to staying on as principal until the students who were in the elementary schools and middle school on the day of the shooting graduated. Then he began supporting other communities dealing with their own tragedies. He connected to the Newtown community after the Sandy Hook shootings, Arapahoe High School, Virginia Tech, Parkland, and many others. He met with school staff and administrators, sharing his learnings and lending a guiding hand. He presented, consulted, and engaged in any way that he could.
His “number one concern after the tragedy was to rebuild the community,” he tells us. And he “wanted to offer as much as possible in the rebuilding of other communities.”
The “I Love U Guys” Foundation is a recipient of this gift. After the Platte Canyon crisis, Frank met with school administrators and was introduced to the Keyes family. He organized Emily’s Parade, a fundraiser for The “I Love U Guys” Foundation that went on for nearly a decade. Frank has advised our protocols and programs, presented at conferences, and sits on our board of directors.
As he does every year at The Briefings, the lessons Frank shares in his presentations will resonate with our reality today. “Twenty years ago, I joined a club in which no one wants to be a member,” Frank told us, distanced via video conference, a constant reminder of our current challenges. “and now we’re all a part of a different club, with a strangely similar undertone.”
Frank has been with The Briefings since its inception, continuing to present new ways of healing and community-building. Emphasizing resilience, hope, and recovery, Frank weaves together research and experience into actionable steps that shape school safety and the community-building that follows. Frank’s lessons speak beyond the Columbine shooting, giving us practical tools to manage life’s challenges.
“The percentage of people who are going to go through a school shooting is very low, but everyone is going to go through tough times in their life,” Frank told us. It’s resilience and hope that will help us effectively work together through the pandemic, and what we’ll take away from Frank’s presentation. A gift learned from a seminal school violence event, applied to community healing and building.
Another way resilience makes an appearance in our community is our shared experience. Like Frank, we all have our stories and they are brought together as enriching dimensions that strengthen our understanding of how to protect the joy of youth.
We’re all in this together, even when we’re virtual (same great content, fewer hugs). Join Frank and the rest of the team February 4-5 at The Winter Briefings. Register here.
Written by The “I Love U Guys” Foundation