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Teachers heroically kept students calm during STEM shooting

STEM School Highlands Ranch has closed for a few days, but students like Sofia Funk continue sharing stories of heroism.

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — Moments before gunshots started in the hallway of STEM School Highlands Ranch, Sofia Funk, 13, says her class was discussing school shootings.

“We were talking about why we shouldn’t joke about school shootings,” Funk said. “And my teacher, her name was Ms. Pritchett -- she said she was 10 minutes away from Columbine when it happened.”

Seconds later, Funk said she heard what sounded like balloons popping in the hallway.

It was a gunman.

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“We heard the shooter say ‘Get down! I’m going to shoot your face off,’ and there was a lot of screaming and yelling,” she said.

Ms. Pritchett rushed to see what was going on.

“She turns the lights off,” Funk recalls. “She turns the blinds off and then she just tells everyone to sit there and be quiet.”

Funk said the next several minutes were gut-wrenching.

“There was just overall panic,” she said. “The girl next to me was crying.

“I started panicking and then I just started to remember how fortunate I’ve been and how good of a family and how good of a life I’ve had and I shouldn’t take things for granted because you never know which day might be your last. I knew the deputies were going to come but just in case, I just wanted to remember how fortunate I’ve been.”

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Then she tried to contact her loved ones.

“I powered my phone down just in case it went off so I asked the kid next to me to borrow his phone so I could text my mom and dad and let them know how much I love them,” Funk said.

Deputies did come into the classroom to clear it. Eventually, Funk was outside with her classmates and she made her way to her teacher to thank her.

“I gave my teacher a hug and I just said thank you because if it wasn’t for her I could have died,” Funk recalls.

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Her mother, Olga Funk, said she didn’t know this teacher until she heard this story. Now she feels like she owes her everything.

“I don’t think there are enough words to describe how grateful we are for what she has done,” Olga Funk said. “The most important thing for her at that moment were our children.

“She put them ahead of our own life and she cared about them before she cared about herself.”