Frank DeAngelis, the former principal of Columbine High School in Colorado, where a deadly school shooting took place in 1999, will speak in Moab on Friday, Jan. 19. [Courtesy photo]

Since the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, its former principal, Frank DeAngelis, has worked to prevent similar violence by remembering the victims and speaking out about lessons learned from the tragedy.

After his retirement as Columbine’s principal in 2014, DeAngelis has accepted speaking engagements across the country to talk about Columbine, overcoming adversity, and ending violence at schools. He often opens his talks by naming the 12 students and one teacher who were killed by two male students from the high school.

According to a National Public Radio report, DeAngelis – who stayed on as Columbine principal for 15 years after the tragedy – has kept in touch with many of the students from that era.

DeAngelis will speak in Moab, at the Grand County High School auditorium, on Friday, Jan. 19, at 6 p.m. There will be time for questions after the roughly 90-minute speech, titled “Lessons from Tragedy: A Conversation on School Safety and Preparedness.”

Pastor Dick Pacheco, of River of Life Christian Fellowship Church, said he invited DeAngelis because he thought his message would be good for the Moab community. Although Moab’s problems are not on the same scale as larger cities, it also experiences tragedies, he said.

For example, a year ago, Pacheco said he counseled a woman whose seventh-grade daughter ended her life after saying she had been bullied at school. At the time of the Columbine massacre in Colorado, the two teenage killers had claimed they were bullied by their peers.

“He’s an international speaker,” Pacheco said. “We’re fortunate to get him. He usually books a year or two in advance. He talks about how does a community heal? How does a school heal? Where do we go from here?”

“It’s all about having safe schools,” he added. “I thought he would be perfect for our community.”

In April 2017, Pacheco founded a faith-based coalition with other churches who come together once a month to discuss ways to help the community. Pacheco has founded substance abuse prevention and suicide prevention programs in Moab.

An anonymous donor paid for DeAngelis’ speaking fees, Pacheco said.

The presentation by DeAngelis is not a school district-sponsored event, GCHS principal Stephen Hren said. He said he expects the former Columbine principal to talk about school safety in general.

“The high school has already taken precautions by holding monthly bomb, fire and lockdown drills,” Hren said. Six years ago, the school held a full-on active shooter drill that was overseen by a SWAT team, he noted.

“We have some plans to change the architecture to the main office, that will force people entering the school to go through the main office,” Hren said. “We have plans in place to make the school even more safe … It’s an ongoing, never-ending process. You practice, and change.”

Ex-Columbine principal will speak in Moab about lessons learned from school’s tragedy

“It’s all about having safe schools … I thought he would be perfect for our community.”

When: Friday, Jan. 19, at 6 p.m.

Where: Grand County High School Auditorium, 608 S. 400 East

Cost: Free

Information: 435-259-8308

For more information, call 435-259-8308.