Kendrick Castillo: A Student Hero

by Emily Drape from Fredericksburg, Virginia in United States

Many people see a hero as someone who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. Although this is true, to me a hero is someone people look up to--someone others want to be like. Someone who is always kind and gentle yet strong. Someone who puts others before themselves so that they might be more comfortable in any situation. Someone who is generous and giving no matter what it costs them. One person like this caught my eye. He was everything I think a hero should be and more. He was a senior on the robotics team at a STEM school in Denver during 2019 when a tragic event happened. One of the many harrowing school shootings circulating all throughout the U.S. happened here. Most of the students went and hid for safety, just as they had been taught. But three stayed behind. These three worked to stop the gunman from hurting anyone else. One of these three heroes was Kendrick Castillo. He had no hesitation as he charged the gunman and threw him up against the wall. His courage inspired the other two to help as well. He is my hero because he was kind, selfless, and brave, three things I wish to be as well. 

Kindness is one of the most essential aspects of humanity in this world today. Kindness is to care for others, and to be civil and kind, no matter your gender, race, background, or opinions. If you lose your sense of kindness, you lose a big part of what being human is. My hero, Kendrick Castillo, was the sort of person who we need more of. He was a “fantastic, wholesome person" (Jacobo), who “never said a mean joke” (Miller). He was the sort of person who got along with everyone, including having a great relationship with his dad and mom. His dad said, "He was always going to be with me man...He's always going to be here.... We were friends first and his parents second and I love that'" (Jacobo). He was the type of person you would go to for help in school, especially in robotics. I would want to have a friend and classmate like that. I want to surround myself with people like that. Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Kendrick was that and more. When you think of a hero you usually think of strength or power. But Kendrick was not strong in the physical sense, but was strong in his care of others, and because he was so morally strong and caring, he became a hero to the families who would have otherwise lost their kids. 

Not only was Kendrick kind but he was also selfless and cared for helping others’ futures and lives continue--even if his did not. Selflessness is the act of caring more about the needs of others than of your own. It is the act of keeping your promises even when it does not necessarily benefit you. Having someone like that and being that person for others is a goal of mine because I know what it is like to not know or have anyone to rely on. Kendrick was this person for his classmates. He was due to graduate in only a couple days when the school shooting happened. He could have run for cover or hid, but instead, he stayed to help and save his classmates. Perhaps he would have lived, perhaps only a couple of people would have died and not him. We will never know, for instead of doing that, he saved them all. His father requested that he would hide, but Kendrick refused. “...he talked with Kendrick about what to do in a school shooting, advising him ‘you don't have to be the hero.’ - But his son... insisted he would act” (Miller). He had a moral obligation to protect his classmates at all costs. He believed that the lives of his classmates were more important than his own and for that he was selfless. 

When you think of a hero, you might think of Captain America or Wonder Woman or George Washington. These people all did amazing things, yet they all had one thing in common. They were all brave, just like Kendrick. Kendrick was brave to the point of running up to the gunman with no hesitation or fear. When the gunman came bursting in the room, he called everyone to put their hands up and freeze. Instead, Kendrick charged at the accused gunman and threw him up against the wall. “It's really hard to stop that kid when he gets going... The gunman … was against the wall and didn't know what the hell hit him" (Jacobo). There was a high chance that he would not survive, Kendrick knew that, but that did not stop him. He did not even hesitate. His bravery led to his death, but his sacrifice saved the lives of many others who could have died that day. I believe you can not know how brave you are or how you would react until you are actually in a situation that requires you to be it. Bravery is being ready to face pain and danger for the sake of others. When I have been confronted with someone hurting my friends and family, I become very protective, so I feel like in this situation I would do the same as him. I hope I will never have to know, but if that situation ever came my way then I want to be like him.

I don’t know how I would react if a man came bursting into the school waving a gun around and threatening to shoot my friends and classmates, but I hope that I can be like Kendrick if it ever happened to me. He was a student, just like me, yet he rose above that limitation and became a hero. It just goes to show that heroes can come in all shapes and sizes. He had no weapon, nothing to defend himself or his classmates with except himself. And yet he was not a bit reluctant to tackle the shooter. School shootings are horrible things and I hope no one has to go through them; however, because of them, Kendrick formed a strong sense of morality. When confronted with his situation he reacted instantly without hesitation. He was selfless, brave, and kind, even in making what was likely to be the hardest decision in his life. He sacrificed his life hoping that others would live. Even if he hadn’t done that, he was still helpful, open, and nice to everyone around. We need more people like him today. I encourage everyone to find someone they want to strive to be like and learn their story, just like I did with Kendrick.

Page created on 5/6/2021 7:13:46 PM

Last edited 9/3/2021 5:25:54 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.


Aviles, Gwen. Tributes to Kendrick Castillo, Teen Who Died Shielding Classmates in STEM School Shooting, Pour in a. [Online] Available

Miller, Susan. Kendrick Castillo, Hero Killed in Colo. School Shooting, Told His Dad He Would Act If Confronted wit. [Online] Available

Garrison, Joey. 11 Days. 3 Mass Shootings. 3 Heroes. What Makes Some Risk Their Lives for Others?. [Online] Available

Jacobo, Julia. Hero' Student Describes How He, 2 Classmates Thwarted Suspect in Colorado School Shooting.. [Online] Available