Columbine High School opened in the fall of 1973. There was no senior class during its first year. The school's first graduating class was in 1975. Columbine was named after the surrounding community of Columbine, which in turn was named after the state flower of Colorado: the columbine. The school's first principal was Gerald Difford.
The official school colors are blue and silver. The colors were selected through a vote by students at Ken Caryl Junior High School and Bear Creek High School, who would be the first students to attend Columbine High School when it opened in 1973.
Columbine High School was the site of one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern United States history. It is the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history. The shootings occurred on April 20, 1999, when senior students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed twelve students and a teacher, and wounded 24 others, before they both committed suicide. The massacre made headlines nationwide and around the world, making Columbine a household name, and causing a moral panic in American high schools.
After the shooting, classes at Columbine were held at nearby Chatfield Senior High for the remaining three weeks of that school year. The school on the other hand went through an expensive renovation and it took three months to complete.
The school went through a major renovation in 1995, just four years before the massacre, adding a new library and cafeteria. After the shootings, Columbine completely demolished its library, located above the cafeteria, since it was the site where the majority of the deaths occurred. The site was then turned into a memorial ceiling and atrium; a new, larger library was built on the hill where the shooting began and dedicated to the memory of the victims.
The school is located at 6201 South Pierce Street, one mile west of the Littleton city limits and one-half mile south of the Denver city/county line. “Littleton” is indicated in the school’s postal address because its ZIP code, 80123, is primarily associated with that city. However, the school is in Jefferson County and part of the Jefferson County Public Schools district, and not the Littleton Public Schools system; Littleton is the seat of Arapahoe County.