Dateline   |  April 21, 2014

The Road Home, part 6

Sam returns to Columbine High School to meet with former classmates and Principal Frank DeAngelis. It is here that Sam comes face to face with some of his biggest fears and tests just how transformative this journey has been.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> toward the end of his journey, sam had a dream. attacked me with what seemed to be like a knife. and i disarmed this sort of of healing perhaps? of a new ability to face the month of april?

>> i'm trying to finally take control of my situation. and all the things that i'm going through, everything that's coming at me, i'm taking control of it and fighting back.

>> his entire ten-day journey has led here, sam 's final stop.

>> so this is it. this is columbine high school .

>> for sam , this will be a good opportunity to judge how transformative his cross-country trip has been. he doesn't know it yet, but something remarkable is about to happen.

>> not really nervous about going back. because i had the opportunity to go back every single day my senior year and be there with my friends. hello, my old heart how have you been

>> so the door would have been right about here?

>> yeah. this is kind of where the old school ended. and it looked like doors like that, but, you know, here, this spot right here is one of the places in my story that impacted me gratefully, you know, where i lost one of a few of my really good friends.

>> so you weren't eating. you were in here studying.

>> i was. i was trying to find a place to study.

>> as many times as he's been back, some places are still off limits. sam has never had the courage to enter the room where he struggled to keep the door shut, the source of a lot of his trauma. but as he shows us where he was sitting in the cafeteria as the shooting began, he suddenly continues into the kitchen and into that room.

>> there were already other students and a couple of other workers, and i was the last one in here, and we turned around. i closed the door, you know. we were sitting on the ground here.

>> without prompting, sam suddenly lies on the floor to demonstrate how he kept the door shut.

>> you know, people were pushing on my knees, and, you know, i was on my back.

>> it is a major breakthrough, one that sam doesn't even realize he's made until he gets back on his feet.

>> this is huge for me being in here right now, and me sort of being okay with it.

>> you've been on a gut-wrenching tour and you've heard a lot of accounts, some more frightening than this. has that changed how you process all this?

>> it has, you know. on this journey i was also in the rooms with the victims.

>> but you --

>> just like you and me right now and learning to be okay in those spaces probably built me up enough to be able to come in here more comfortably and sort of talk it out. this is actually really, really nice for me right now to sort of be in here and soak it in. frank and i, we're family members now.

>> in the hallway, we meet frank deangeles, sam 's principal. after the tragedy, deangeles vowed to stay on until every student in the columbine district that day, including the preschoolers had graduated. he is retiring this year.

>> do you remember the first time sam came back after graduating?

>> i do. he was sitting in a chair, and all of a sudden i look up. these tears are starting to come down his eyes, and i start crying. and even though sam is 30 plus, they're still my kids. and took me back to that day when they were teen abageteenagers, and i just wanted to wipe away that hurt.

>> sam and the frank have joined a group of columbine survivors who have gathered.

>> when you hear about sam 's journey, what are you thinking?

>> that's what we all thoep do.

>> and i think that's where the true healing is going to m could. it's truly connecting with suffer survivors. and there's a bond we share at columbine but also with those elsewhere.

>> sam 's on the right track.

>> oh, absolutely.

>> it's exactly that kind of bond that sam discovered on his journey. the survivors he met are now part of his columbine wounded minds project, and he hopes to raise enough money to not only finish his film but to make it a resource for all trauma victims. he is not alone. his friends have the started support organizations. they hope to redefine what columbine means from a word sin on muss with tragedy.

>> we try to get out there and protect or heal or.

>> it's a gift that we were given, and what we're doing with it. i think is incredible. nothing lasts forever some things aren't meant to be never find the answers till you set your heart free till you set your own heart free

>> i feel completely changed. no one's ever going to heal overnight. but as this anniversary approaches, i've gained a lot of tools that will sort of help me process things one at a time and sort of listen to myself, and i can use it to help reach out to millions of other people. 3