Friday, 4 January 2013

3 Weeks After Shooting, Students Of Sandy-Hook Elementary Return To School



Back to school: Sandy Hook students wave on their way to their new school, with one young boy holding up his fingers in a sign Americans recognise as a peace sign



In Newtown, the surviving children of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre returned to classes on Thursday for the first time since the killing (click HERE if you missed it), relocating to a refurbished school in a nearby town. Children were pictured boarding buses, while police officers stood guard outside the school to check IDs of parents dropping off their sons and daughters.

In one particularly striking image, a young boy aboard a yellow school bus held his fingers in a peace sign as the vehicle passed memorials and welcoming signs on its new route.


With their original school still being treated as a crime scene, the more than 400 students are now attending a school, formerly known as Chalk Hill School, in the neighboring town of Monroe.
The site has taken the name Sandy Hook Elementary School - known as the place where six staff members and 20 children lost their lives on December 14 - after discussions with staff.
Police officers have been guarding the new school and a senior officer described it as 'the safest school in America'.


William's classroom had been across the hall from a first-grade room where children and teacher Victoria Soto died, and he had been nervous about going back to school, Caron said. But an open house Wednesday at the school eased some of his fears."They didn't talk about what happened at all," she said. "They went in, met up with their teachers, had a little circle time and it was just about trying to get them back into school."



For her son's first day of school since last month's massacre at his Sandy Hook Elementary, Sarah Caron tried to make Thursday as normal as possible. She made his favorite pancakes, and she walked the second-grader to the top of the driveway for the school bus.
But it was harder than usual to say goodbye.
"I hugged him a lot longer than normal, until he said, `Mommy, please,'" she said. "And then he got on the bus, and he was OK."
Her 7-year-old son, William, was among more than 400 students who escaped a gunman's rampage that killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook on Dec. 14. On Thursday, the returning students settled in at their old, familiar desks but in a different school in a different town.


The school district said parents who wanted to be close to their children could stay in classrooms or an auditorium throughout the first day, but they were encouraged to take their children to the bus to help them return to their routine.
Newtown Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson said the school has been transformed into a 'cheerful' place for the students to resume normal school routines.
She said mental health counselors are available for anyone who needs them.
'We will go to our regular schedule,' she said. 'We will be doing a normal day.'
Teams of workers, many of them volunteers, prepared the school with fresh paint and new furniture and even raised bathroom floors so the smaller elementary school students can reach the toilets.
The students' desks, backpacks and other belongings that were left behind following the shooting were taken to the new school to make them feel at home.
Monroe police Lt. Keith White said attendance was very good and the children were getting back to "business as usual."
"A lot of them were happy to see their friends they hadn't seen in a while," he said.


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