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Web posted Thursday, January 6, 2000
Students return to Columbine after scare

LITTLETON, Colo. (AP) -- Columbine High School students returned to class Wednesday, two weeks after an Internet threat prompted administrators to postpone final exams and begin the holiday break two days earlier than expected.

To make the return easier, teachers pushed back exams until Friday, so students could spend Wednesday and Thursday reviewing material.

"Considering the situation, it seems to be going fairly well," Columbine Principal Frank DeAngelis said. "We saw kids with some smiling faces who were glad to be back and glad to see some of their friends."

Additional counselors also were on hand in case any of Columbine's 1,900 students wanted to talk about the school's latest crisis, which began when sophomore Erin Walton told authorities about a threatening message she received over the Internet on Dec. 15.

Miss Walton said a person writing under the name "Soup81" on American Online sent her a message threatening to "finish what begun," in reference to the April 20 shootings at the school in which two gunmen killed 13 people before committing suicide.

The FBI said it traced the message to Michael Ian Campbell, 18, of Cape Coral, Fla., who was arrested Dec. 17.

Campbell, who told reporters he was bored and made a stupid mistake, is to appear in a Denver courtroom Jan. 11 to face a felony federal charge of using an interstate communications facility to threaten another person.

The Internet threat came on the heels of a Time magazine article that published excerpts from videotapes made by gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in the weeks before the massacre. Many in the Columbine said they felt blindsided by the article and ensuing reports.

"We take a giant step forward and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and then something transpires and we have to take two giant steps backward," DeAngelis said. "That light at the end of the tunnel tends to go out."

Miss Walton and her younger sister Cassie, a freshman, said they will transfer to nearby Chatfield High School. DeAngelis said he expects to know next week how many other students will not return for the second semester.

"There are people in our school community who are tired of being under the microscope," DeAngelis said. "People want to get away from that. They want to get back to normal. Getting back to normal is something that's never going to happen at Columbine High School, especially this year."