LITTLETON, Colo. — – As in most schools across the country, Columbine High School had its cliques.
To Jesse Evans, a junior at Columbine, the breakdown was pretty simple.
"Basically, you have your jocks, your preps and then you have everyone else," said Evans, who wore a rumpled brown corduroy jacket, loose jeans and pulled his long curly hair back. With that look, explained another student, you'll never fit in with the preps and jocks.
"Preps and jocks wear tight jeans and tuck in their shirts," explained Andrea Colburn, a 16-year-old who was a sophomore at Columbine last year.
In trying to understand what could possibly have inspired Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to stage a four-hour rampage, people at Columbine are rethinking how they have divided themselves into the inevitable high school cliques.
As senior Adam Campbell said, "Like in any other school, our school had cliques. There are jocks, there are preps, there are motorheads — who are guys who work on cars all the time — there are the band guys, there are the nerds and there are the party kids, the popular ones. Everyone gets picked on. That’s what high school's about."
Evans said he and his friends Josh Neilson belong to the group called the stoners — students who like to use marijuana. Like the two suspects, they have also felt alienated by the so-called jocks and preps, who they say make up the majority at Columbine High School.
"They would say things because we dress differently and were into the school spirit," said Neilson. In fact, the rift between the stoners and jocks had grown so deep that the groups had planned a brawl just over a month ago. They resolved the conflict however, before any major fights took place.
Neilson and Evans — although they felt cut off from the main student body at Columbine — said they couldn't imagine reacting the way the suspects did.
"We would just take it outside and take care of it with our fists," said Neilson. "Nothing like this."
Within Columbine's social hierarchy, students from both the jocks and stoners say members of the Trenchcoat Mafia registered off the meter. "They were way below us," said Evans. "They were totally their own thing."
Brad Johnson, a senior at Columbine and a football player, said he and his friends "never even bothered" talking to the two suspects and other members of the Trenchcoat Mafia.
"If you looked at them wrong, they would snap and get all mad," he said. "So we just stopped bothering."
But on Thursday, an eighteen-year-old senior at Columbine stood up to defend the two suspects. He denied that there was ever a Trench coat Mafia group. "I'm sick of the media demonizing them," he said. "They were my friends, they were honor students, they were Columbine students. We have to mourn for them as well as the others." Dustin declined to give his last name.
For now, Columbine students are saying they're going to try and put a stop to the animosity between different groups at the school. In fact, Evans said a group of athletes and stoners got together Wednesday night at a show of peace during the dulling, horrible aftermath of Tuesday's shooting.
"We don't want this anymore," said Evans, as he kicked a car wheel with his steel toed boots. "Now it all seems pretty stupid."