Monday, March 30, 2009

Richard Hoover - Class of 2001 - Speaker

What year did you graduate? 2001

Describe your experience during the tragedy.

At the time when the shooting happened I was in weights class, just outside the gym. Someone came into the weight room and told our teacher (coach Marshall) that there was someone down in the commons with a gun. So he left without telling anyone in the weight room. We continued to work out, when the fire alarm went off, at first we thought it was a senior prank. Then we decided we should probably go outside, once we exited the door in the weight room the first thing I noticed was what sounded like fireworks (found out later it was the pipe bombs). It took awhile to realize that this was a serious situation. April 20th was probably one of the longest days/nights of my life, I spent the night with friends watching tv, praying and just talking. We waited till the next morning to see who had actually died, we had an idea about a few people, I initially knew Dylan was involved because of the police surrounding his car. In the weeks following it was interesting, I knew my life would never be the same again.

How has the healing process been for you over the past ten years? Please describe it.

The last 10 years have been interesting, the next 2 years at school were different, I became really close with a lot of my friends and didn't focus too much on my schooling. I don't know if that was a direct result of the shooting but I like to think so. After I graduated I moved to California, where my friends out there used to introduce me as the Columbine kid, that was an adjustment, but after time I got used to it, answering the same questions over and over. I started speaking my junior year of high school, and have been doing so since then.

Update me on your professional life - what have you been doing over the past ten years?

After high school I moved to California and got a job with the Oakland Athletics, and did some speaking on the side, speaking made it difficult for me to go to school, so I have put college off since, now that I am slowing down speaking college is now a priority.

Describe your professional goals.

I have had a passion for speaking for almost 10 years, but now I am starting to realize that if I want to start a family, and a life for that matter, that I need to pursue other things, I have always wanted to help people so I plan on pursuing a career in law enforcement.

About Rachel's Challenge
What is the message behind it?

RC's message is pretty simple, it's to promote kindness and compassion. Rachel Scott was the first person shot and killed at CHS and she left behind several journals, and essays that her family found after her death. In those letters Rachel talked about the importance behind kindness and compassion.

How did it get started?

Rachel's Challenge was started by Rachel's father Darrell after her death, since then RC is the number one high school assembly program in the country, each year the number of students the program reaches grows numerously.

How many people are involved?

Currently there are 30 speakers, and a full staff.

How does it work?

Currently there are 2 programs, Rachel's Challenge (year 1) and Rachel's Legacy (year 2) also there is a program called Friends of Rachel or F.O.R. for short, which is a program that stays with the students after the speaker leaves the school.

What is your involvement with it?
I am a program presenter

How long have you been doing it?

I have been with RC since 2007

Why did you decide to get involved?

Well after speaking on my own for years, and doing events with Rachel's brother Craig, I decided to join the organization to share Rachel's story.

What do you hope personally that audiences take from Rachel's Challenge?

I hope the students understand that a little kindness goes along way. It's not about changing the world with one big swoop, Rachel was one girl, in a quiet in Littleton Colorado, that wanted to leave her legacy and wanted to change the world for the better, and all it took was kindness and compassion, I think that is the most important message.

At any point, have you had reservations about being involved in Rachel's Challenge?

I have been speaking for 10 years, so I have begun to slow down my traveling with RC, it is something that I feel like I will always be involved with, it is an amazing organization changing thousands of students lives every day!

What sorts of reactions have you had from audience members? Is there anything that stands out in particular?

There are countless of stories of lives being changed by the program. The reaction is usually a sense of inspiration to change their thoughts, and the way students treat eachother.

What kinds of long term changes have you seen as a result of Rachel's Challenge?

There are several stories that we as speakers hear about once a week talking about different stories inspired by Rachel's story, from suicide preventions to even school shootings being stopped. It truly is a life changing program, and a very important and impactful presentation.

Are many other survivors involved in Rachel's Challenge?

Currently, there are 5 students that were there that day who are presenters.

Have you been involved in any other Columbine-related projects?

Before I joined Rachel's Challenge, I worked with several different programs and projects throughout the country. Pathufind communications is one of them.

Has Columbine influenced your career goals? If so, how?

Seeing the impact that Columbine as a whole has had on the country has inspired me to want to reach out and help people, so yeah in a way it has changed my influnce on career choices.

How did Columbine affect your spirituality?

I was not religious before actually, and that day took a toll on me spiritually, I started talking to a friend in California the night of the shooting till the early hours of the morning about God, and about 2 months later I was baptized, and have attended church regularly since then.

Had Columbine happened, how would you be different personally and professionally?

Well, that's hard to say as I was a sophmore, and still wanted to be a major league baseball player, but I also had plans on joining the millitary which never happened because of that day.

Looking around at the world today, what changes (positive OR negative) do you see as a result of Columbine?

I believe Columbine has changed the world in the sense that it was an awakening that school shootings can happen anywhere, although before that day there were several in the country, but Columbine seemed to wake the beast. I still believe that people will have their opinions on why Columbine happened, and how their school system is different. But I believe there are schools that are naieve enough to believe it can't happen, and when that train of thought occurs, I believe is when they leave themselves vulnurable to the probability of it actually happening.

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