Entries in Sandy Hook Elementary (19)


Committee Recommends Tearing Down Sandy Hook Elementary School

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(NEWTOWN, Conn.) -- A committee voted on Friday night to raze Sandy Hook Elementary School, the site of the horrifying school shooting on December 14, and build a new school in its place.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the unanimous vote brought some of the committee members to tears. The vote, only a recommendation, will now go to the Board of Education for approval. There will eventually be a town referendum on the proposal as well.

Building the new school is expected to cost between $42 million and $47 million, according to the Wall Street Journal, which the state of Connecticut and the federal government are expected to pay.

The school would not open until at least January 2016.

Sandy Hook Elementary students have been attending Chalk Hill Middle School in Monroe, Conn., since January.

The committee gathered Friday night to decide whether to rebuild at the same location as the old Sandy Hook Elementary School or to build a new school at a location less than a mile away, says the Wall Street Journal.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Gun Show Near Newtown Goes On, While Others Rush to Cancel

ABC News(STAMFORD, Conn.) -- A little more than 40 miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School, where last month 20 first graders and six staff members were massacred, gun dealers and collectors alike ignored calls to cancel a gun show, and gathered for business in Stamford, Conn.

Four other gun shows with an hour of Newtown, Conn., recently cancelled their events in the wake of the shootings, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza broke in to the elementary school with a semi-automatic assault rifle and three other guns.

The organizers in Stamford emphasized their show only displayed antique and collectible guns, not military style assault weapons like the one used by Lanza in Sandy Hook.

Still, Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia had called for the show to close its doors, calling it "insensitive" to hold so close to the murders.

Gun show participant Sandy Batchelor said he wasn't sure about whether going ahead with the show was "insensitive," but said the shooter should be blamed, not the weapons he used.

"I don't have a solid opinion on [whether it is insensitive]," Batchelor said. "I'm not for or against it. I would defend it by saying it wasn’t the gun."

In nearby Waterbury, the community cancelled a show scheduled for this weekend.

"I felt that the timing of the gun show so close to that tragic event would be in bad taste," Waterbury Police Chief Michael J. Gugliotti said.

Gugliotti has halted permits for gun shows, saying he was concerned about firearms changing hands that might one day be used in a mass shooting.

But across the country, farther away from Connecticut, attendance at gun shows is spiking, and some stores report they can hardly keep weapons on their shelves with some buyers fearful that the federal government will soon increase restrictions on gun sales and possibly ban assault weapons altogether.

"We sold 50-some rifles in days," said Jonathan O'Connor, store manager of Gun Envy in Minnesota.

President Obama said after the Sandy Hook shooting that addressing gun violence would be one of his priorities and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.), said she would introduce an assault weapons ban this month.

But it is not just traditional advocates of gun control that have said there need to be changes in gun laws since the horrific school shooting.

Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat but a long-time opponent of gun control who like Hutchison has received an A rating from the NRA, have both come out in support of strengthening gun laws.

In Stamford, gun dealer Stuart English said participants at the gun show there are doing nothing wrong.

"I have to make a living. Life goes on," gun dealer Stuart English said.

ABC News asked English, what he thought about the mayor of Stamford calling the show "insensitive."

"He's wrong," English said. "This is a private thing he shouldn't be expressing his opinion on."


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sandy Hook Parents Shadow Students on Return to School

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Parents in Newtown, Conn., put their children on school buses Thursday morning and waved goodbye as the yellow buses rolled away.  But this first day back since the pre-Christmas massacre is anything but normal for the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Erin Milgram, the mother of a first grader and a fourth grader at Sandy Hook, told ABC's Good Morning America that she was going to drive behind the bus and stay with her 7-year-old Lauren for the entire school day.

"I haven't gotten that far yet, about not being with them," Milgram said.  "I just need to stay with them for a while."

Thursday is "Opening Day" for Sandy Hook Elementary School, which is re-opening about six miles away in the former Chalk Hill school in Monroe, Conn.

Lauren was in teacher Kaitlin Roig's first grade class on Dec. 14 when gunman Adam Lanza forced his way into the school and killed 20 students and six staffers.

Roig has been hailed a hero for barricading her students in a classroom bathroom and refusing to open the door until authorities could find a key to open the door.

The 20 students killed were first-graders and the Milgrams have struggled to explain to Lauren why so many of her friends will never return to school.

"She knows her friends and she'll also see on the bus... there will be some missing on the bus," Milgram said.  "We look at yearbook pictures.  We try to focus on the happy times because we really don't know what we're doing."

"How could someone be so angry?" Lauren's father Eric Milgram wondered before a long pause.  "We don't know."

The school has a lecture room available for parents to stay as long as they wish and they are also allowed to accompany their children to the classroom to help them adjust.  Counselors will be available throughout the day for parents, staff and students, according to the school's website.

The first few days will be a delicate balancing act between assessing the children's needs and trying to get them back to a normal routine.

"We don't want to avoid memories of a trauma," Dr. Jamie Howard told Good Morning America.  "And so by getting back to school and by engaging in your routines, we're helping kids to do that, we're helping them to have a natural, healthy recovery to a trauma."

Security is paramount in everyone's mind.  There is a police presence on campus and drivers of every vehicle that comes onto campus are being interviewed.

"Our goal is to make it a safe and secure learning environment for these kids to return to, and the teachers also," Monroe police Lt. Keith White said at a news conference on Wednesday.

A "state-of-the-art" security system is in place, but authorities will not go into detail about the system, saying only that the school will probably be "the safest school in America."

Every adult in the school who is not immediately recognizable will be required to wear a badge as identification, parent and school volunteer Karen Dryer told ABC News.

"They want to know exactly who you are at sight, whether or not you should be there," Dryer said.

Despite the precautions and preparations, parents will still be coping with the anxiety of parting with their children.

"Rationally, something like this is a very improbable event, but that still doesn't change the emotional side of the way you feel," Eric Milgram said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sandy Hook Parents and Teachers to Put on a Brave Face for Students 

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(MONROE, Conn.) -- When the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School arrive at their new school building for the first day of classes on Thursday, they will be greeted by their beloved pet turtle, Shelley, and a winter wonderland of cut-out snowflakes sent by well-wishers from around the world.

"You have to put on a smile and you have to just move forward with enthusiasm," parent and school volunteer Karen Dryer told ABC News. "You have to make it the best possible place for the children. You can't afford to fall apart or be afraid yourself. You have to just be really brave and put on a big smile and be reassuring."

Dryer's 5-year-old son is a kindergarten student at the school, and she is the class volunteer for his class who has helped prepare the new school.

Thursday's "Opening Day," as the school is calling it, will mark the first time the roughly 500 members of the school are all together after the Dec. 14 rampage in which gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six staffers.

The school's new home is the building that used to be the Chalk Hill Middle School in Monroe, Conn., about six miles from Sandy Hook in Newtown.

"[It took] a great deal of thought and effort and volunteer work to make this as seamless as possible," Newtown schools superintendent Janet Robinson said at a news conference Wednesday. "Right now, Chalk Hill has been transformed from a middle school to a very cheerful, nurturing elementary school."

Sinks and toilets were lowered to elementary school levels. Walls were painted and the school's mascot Shelley, a red slider turtle, has been moved to his new home in the library. Many of the students and their parents have already visited the new school and many more were set to visit at an open house Wednesday.

"All the kids love Shelley," Dryer said. "Just seeing Shelley was a huge thing for the kids, knowing he's okay and that he's going to be at the new school."

The paper snowflakes hanging from the ceilings were part of an international effort to send the decorations to the school. The snowflakes came from all around the country and world, from as far away as Israel. Some are personalized with messages on them.

"We just got this brand-new school and it's all decorated and really looking beautiful," she said. "The classrooms are all completely set up, all decorated really well because the teachers and volunteers put in a lot of time making sure it looks welcoming and somewhat familiar."

She said the level to which the classrooms were recreated varied by class and age.

For kindergartners who need structure for security, the classrooms were meticulously recreated from the drawings on the wall to the crayons and water bottles on the desks.

For some of the older students who perhaps saw or heard things that were traumatic, some of the teachers have gone with new designs that are welcoming but not too reminiscent of the past room.

Dryer said that the community has experienced many "miracles" in the weeks since the shooting, but that two big miracles come to mind in terms of the school.

The first was the town of Monroe giving Sandy Hook an entire building to use for their school. When splitting up the school and distributing the members to other schools arose as an idea, it was rejected immediately.

"The teachers were up in arms and they said absolutely not and all the parents agreed that they need to be together more than ever. You cannot split up those teachers or those kids."

The second "miracle" was the return of former principal Donna Page (pronounced Pa-jhay), who the superintendent Wednesday called a "godsend."

Page is leading the new school as interim principal, telling parents it was her "calling" to return after the tragedy. Parents have dubbed her the "new old principal" because Page was the school's leader for 14 years before retiring in 2010.

The school's principal, Dawn Hochsprung, was among the first victims of the shooting. The school didn't know how they would fill Hochsprung's "very, very big shoes" until they heard from Page, who said she knew she was being called back to the school when she heard about the shooting, Dryer said.

Dryer knew Page from when her daughter, now a sophomore in high school, was at Sandy Hook while Page was principal.

"She's amazing. She's an extremely strong woman," Dryer said. "She is the perfect person to come in and take control and lead this school and staff forward."

"Once we had those two things in place, we felt so much better and then everything has been coming together and working hard to prepare the space," she said. "They literally worked around the clock to get it all up to date."

As the school prepares to officially open, security is paramount in everyone's mind. There is a police presence on campus and drivers of every vehicle that comes onto campus are being interviewed.

"Our goal is to make it a safe and secure learning environment for these kids to return too, and the teachers also," Monroe police Lt. Keith White said at the news conference.

A "state-of-the-art" security system is in place, but authorities will not go into detail about the system, saying only that the school will probably be "the safest school in America."

Every adult in the school who is not immediately recognizable will be required to wear a badge as identification, Dryer said.

"They want to know exactly who you are at sight, whether or not you should be there," Dryer said.

The first few days will be a delicate balancing act between assessing the children's needs and trying to get them back to a normal routine.

"They want to try to get things back into a routine as quickly as possible, but they do see the need for some therapeutic days," Dryer said. "They're going to spend the first few days mostly acclimating themselves to the new space doing a lot of different things that will help them get familiar with the school."

Dryer said that some children will do activities that seem like simple, fun games, but are actually providing some therapy and giving adults a chance to assess where they are.

Now that the construction is finished, the walls are painted and the decorations hung, Robinson said that the only missing piece is the children.

"I think they'll feel welcome as they come through the front door," Lt. White said. "Their teachers eagerly await to meet them again and move forward from this point."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sandy Hook Classrooms Recreated Down to Crayons on the Desk in New Building

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(MONROE, Conn.) -- The students and staff of Sandy Hook Elementary School will return to school on Thursday for the first time since the shooting rampage that left 20 young students and six adults dead. The students will be in a new building where their old classrooms have been completely recreated.

Instead of returning to the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., they will be going to the building that used to be the Chalk Hill Middle School in Monroe, about six miles away.

Sandy Hook school was shut since Adam Lanza carried out his massacre shortly before Christmas.

Since principal Dawn Hochsprung was one of the victims of the shooting, the school will be led by interim principal Donna Page. Page was the school's prior principal who retired in 2010.

"Please know the inspiration you and your children have been to my staff and me as we connect with you at Chalk Hill," Page wrote in a letter posted on the school's website. "Be assured that the towns of Monroe and Newtown are working night and day to ensure the facility is safe, secure, and fully operational for our return," Page wrote.

The school will host a walk-through for families on Wednesday and "Opening Day" will be Thursday.

"I want to reassure you that we understand many parents may need to be near their children on their first day(s) of school and you will be welcome," Page wrote.

The school is encouraging students to take the bus in order to help them return to familiar routines and said parents may come to the school's classrooms or auditorium throughout the day after the 9:07 a.m. opening. They are asking that no more than one adult family member accompany each child in order "to ensure a safe and secure environment."

In addition to a parental presence at the school, comfort dogs will be returning to brighten the day. Small armies of golden retrievers spread out all over Newtown in the days following the shooting to comfort mourners young and old.

Chicago's Lutheran Church Charities' K-9 Parish Comfort Dogs are traveling back to Connecticut Tuesday. Nine dogs and their handlers gathered at their building at 1 a.m. Tuesday morning to board a caravan of one RV and two vans heading to Connecticut.

"The community of Newtown will be going through the healing process for a very long time," the group wrote on their website. "The LCC K-9 Comfort dogs will be returning to Newtown...They will be there to greet children as they return to school."

The rest of the Newtown school district resumes classes on Wednesday.

Furniture and supplies from Sandy Hook were moved to Chalk Hill in order to recreate the classrooms just as they were.

Teachers photographed their classrooms at Sandy Hook in order to replicate everything about them, from the pictures on the walls to the crayons left on the students' desks. This is all part of an effort to make the students feel as comfortable as possible.

Workers completely retrofitted the former middle school to fit the needs of its young students, including tearing out bathrooms that were made for teenagers and rebuilding them for elementary-aged kids.

New security systems are being installed at Chalk Hill school, and Newtown Councilman Steve Vavrek told ABC News that the school will be "the safest school in America."

For a school that has gone through so much, moving forward does not mean forgetting.

"I want parents and families enduring the loss of their precious children to know their loved ones are foremost in our hearts and minds as we move forward," Page wrote. "Your strength and compassion has been, and will continue to be an inspiration to me and countless others as we work to honor the memory of your precious children and our beloved staff."


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Newtown Survivor’s Family Seeks to Sue State for $100M

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(NEWTOWN, Conn.) -- A Connecticut lawyer has filed a request to sue the state for $100 million on behalf of a 6-year-old girl who survived the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.

“Jill Doe was a student on the premises who heard all of the subject events as they were occurring, including conversations, gunfire, and screaming, and including so much of said events as were being transmitted through an intercom or public address system in the school,” attorney Irving Pinsky of New Haven, Conn., wrote in the filing.

The girl and her parents are identified only as Jill, John and Jane Doe in the filing.

On Dec. 14, gunman Adam Lanza, 20, killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School before turning the gun on himself. Earlier that morning, he had also killed his mother at home.

Pinsky said the potential lawsuit is not about money, but about principle and preventing future tragedies.

“My main concern here is to stop this from happening again and we’ve had a lot of mass murders in America,” he told “We’re trying to get school security upgraded in Connecticut and nationally.”

“This is America,” he added. “There’s way too many of these things. We can do better. We can do much better.”

Pinsky said his young client has suffered a great deal as a result of what she saw and heard the day of the shooting.

“As a consequence, the claimant-minor child has sustained emotional and psychological trauma and injury, the nature and extent of which are yet to be determined,” the filing says.

Pinksy did not want to further discuss the young girl or any details of her experience from the day.

The state has immunity against most lawsuits unless permission is granted to the suing party to move forward.

Connecticut’s Office of the Claims Commissioner, where Pinsky asked for permission to file a claim, did not respond to request for comment on Sunday.

Pinsky said the $100 million requested in the filing is intended to draw attention to the issue.

“As far as I know, there’s no guidelines as to what number to use and if my goal is to stop this from happening again and again, I have to use a number that’s significant,” he said.

The attorney said the next steps will be to wait for a response from the state and wait for any evidence in the case that comes from the attorney general’s office.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sandy Hook Shooting: Moment of Silence Held for Victims

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(NEWTOWN, Conn.) -- A moment of silence in recognition of the massacre in Newtown, Conn., was held on Friday at 9:30 a.m. ET, marking the time a week ago when Adam Lanza killed 26 people before committing suicide.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and Newtown First Selectman Patricia Llodra, together with other local elected officials and residents, convened on the steps of Edmond Town Hall in Newtown for the moment of silence.

President Obama also took part in the moment of silence, although privately, behind closed doors at the White House.  

Minutes before 9:30 a.m., he tweeted: "20 beautiful children & 6 remarkable adults. Together, we will carry on & make our country worthy of their memory. -bo #MomentForSandyHook."  The “-bo” signature means the tweet was sent by the president himself.

Bells from nearby Trinity Episcopal Church rang 26 times, in memory of each life lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Malloy had proclaimed Friday a "day of mourning" in Connecticut, asking residents statewide to participate in the moment of silence.  He also wrote the nation's governors, inviting each state in the country to participate in the reflection on Friday.

Lanza fatally shot his mother at their home last Friday and then entered Sandy Hook Elementary School by shooting his way through a window to gain entry.  From there, he gunned down and killed 26 people, including 20 children.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Other Sandy Hook Schools Field Calls Meant for Conn. School

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sandy Hook Elementary School in Kentucky and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Virginia both received calls of concern and condolence intended for the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 students and six faculty members last Friday.

“On Friday, we did get several calls from people who heard the story and thought it was our school, or accidentally reached us instead of the school in Connecticut,” C. Thomas Potter, the superintendent of Elliott County Schools in Kentucky, told ABC News.

The calls included “one call to a member of the school board before we all heard the news that scared her half to death,” Potter said.

Officials at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Virginia told ABC News affiliate TV3-Winchester that even law enforcement was confused on Friday.

“When I first heard it, I actually heard it over local radio, and they didn’t say Connecticut,” a Sandy Hook school resource officer told TV-3 Winchester.  “I didn’t understand why I hadn’t been contacted, because I was just across the street at the middle school, so I came right over.”

The Virginia school wasn’t the one at the center of the worst elementary school shooting in U.S. history, but principal Melissa Foltz told TV3-Winchester the school has received messages of support from around the country.

“Phone calls came in from across the nation.  They talked about receiving calls from Michigan.  We received phone calls from Legoland in California asking if we needed financial help and what they could do to help us,” Foltz told TV3-Winchester.

Now that everything has calmed down at the Sandy Hooks in Virginia and Kentucky, school officials said the focus is on the Connecticut community and how they heal and move forward.

“Our connection with the name of the school has really struck a chord with our students and community,” Potter told ABC News.  “Our students all wore green and white on Monday for the Sandy Hook students [in Connecticut].”

Foltz told TV3-Winchester her school has stepped up patrols this week to keep the students safe, and on Wednesday a man was arrested for walking into the school with a wooden board labeled “High Powered Rifle.”

Funerals for the students and faculty killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., are underway this week.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NRA Breaks Silence on Connecticut Shooting

NRA/ABC News(FAIRFAX, Va.) -- The National Rifle Association has broken its silence on the mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn., saying it is ready to “offer meaningful contributions” to the effort to make sure there are no more incidents like the one in which 20-year-old Adam Lanza used an assault rifle to kill 27 people before killing himself.

In the wake of the massacre, in which 20 children were killed, advocates for stricter gun control laws called for Congress, President Obama, and other lawmakers to act swiftly to ban assault weapons from public use.

But the pro-gun organization and lobby refused to comment on the shooting until Tuesday. The group took down its Facebook page, stopped using its Twitter account, and refused to participate in Sunday morning political talk shows on which they were invited to discuss gun control.

On Tuesday, they announced a news conference for Friday, and released a statement saying that NRA members were “heartbroken.”

“The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters — and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown,” the statement read.

“Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting,” the statement said. “The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.”

Adam Lanza used a Bushmaster .223 semi-automatic rifle at close range to kill his mother at their home, and then to kill 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School during the rampage. He also had two handguns with him at the time he was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The shooting prompted many politicians to make statements supporting gun control, including New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who said she intends to introduce an assault weapons ban on the first day of the next Congress.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Conn. School Shooting: Classroom Survivor Played Dead

ABC News(NEWTOWN, Conn.) -- The lone survivor of one of the two Sandy Hook Elementary School first-grade classrooms where Adam Lanza allegedly shot and killed 20 children tricked the gunman by playing dead, the girl’s pastor said.

“She ran out of the school building covered from head to toe with blood and the first thing she said to her mom was, ‘Mommy, I’m OK but all my friends are dead,’” Pastor Jim Solomon told ABC News’ Lara Spencer this weekend.

“Somehow, in that moment, by God’s grace, [she] was able to act as she was already deceased,” he said.

The girl, a 6-year-old whose name is not being released for privacy reasons, was the first student to emerge from the lockdown at Sandy Hook, Solomon said.  He said the young girl described the shooter to her mom in a way that only a young child can.

“Well, she saw someone who she felt was angry and someone she felt was very mad,” Solomon said.  “I think it’s impossible outside of divine intervention.  She has wisdom beyond her years, for sure.”

Of the 20 children killed last Friday in the Newtown, Conn., school, eight were boys and 12 were girls.  Six staff members -- all female -- were also killed.

“The mom told me -- and I thought this was very insightful -- that she was suffering from what she felt was survivor’s guilt because so many of her friends no longer have their children but she has hers,” Solomon said.

“I think as well as you can expect them to,” he said of how the girl’s mother and father are handling the trauma.  “I don’t know that I would have the type of faith that they have if the same thing happened to me.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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