Sandy Hook Children Return for First Classes Since Shooting
By PAT EATON-ROBB and DAVE COLLINS Associated Press
MONROE, Conn. (AP) - The Newtown schools superintendent says preparations have been made for a "normal" day, yet it will likely be anything but that when classes resume for Sandy Hook Elementary School students for the first time since a gunman killed 20 of their classmates.
With their original school still being treated as a crime scene, the students will begin attending classes at a refurbished school in the neighboring town of Monroe on Thursday. Law enforcement officers have been guarding the new school, and by the reckoning of police, it is "the safest school in America."
Still, Newtown Superintendent Janet Robinson said officials will do their best to make the students feel at ease.
"We will go to our regular schedule," she said. "We will be doing a normal day."
On Wednesday, the students and their families were welcomed at an open house at their new school, which was formerly the Chalk Hill Middle School in Monroe but renamed as the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Students received gift boxes with toys inside and shared joyful reunions with teachers.
One father, Vinny Alvarez, took a moment to thank his third-grade daughter's teacher, Courtney Martin, who protected the class from a rampaging gunman by locking her classroom door and keeping the children in a corner.
"Everybody there thanked her in their own way," he said.
The gunman, Adam Lanza, also killed his mother at the home they shared in Newtown before driving to the school, where he slaughtered 20 children and six educators, including the school's principal. Lanza fatally shot himself as police arrived. Police haven't released any details about a motive.
Numerous police officers on Wednesday guarded the outside of the Monroe school, which is about 7 miles from the old school, and told reporters to stay away.
"I think right now it has to be the safest school in America," Monroe police Lt. Keith White said.
Teachers attended staff meetings at the new school on Wednesday morning and were visited by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy before the open house, White said.
Robinson said Chalk Hill School has been transformed into a "cheerful" place for the surviving students to resume normal school routines. She said mental health counselors continue to be available for anyone who needs them.
During the open house, Alvarez said his 8-year-old daughter also got to pick out a stuffed animal to take home from the school library.
"I'm not worried about her going back," he said of his daughter Cynthia. "The fear kind of kicks back in a little bit, but we're very excited for her and we got to see many, many kids today. The atmosphere was very cheerful."
Several signs welcoming the Sandy Hook students to their new school were posted along the road leading to the school in a rural, mostly residential neighborhood. One said "Welcome Sandy Hook Elementary Kids," while a similar sign added "You are in our prayers."
Teams of workers, many of them volunteers, prepared the Chalk Hill 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.
Eaton-Robb reported from Hartford, Conn.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Evangelist Franklin Graham prayed on a sidewalk outside the Pentagon Thursday after his invitation to a prayer service inside was withdrawn because of comments that insulted people of other religions. More>>
Saturday, May 25 2013 2:23 AM EDT2013-05-25 06:23:56 GMT
ATHENS, Ga. -- The Auburn women's golf team concluded its improbable run through the NCAA Championship Friday, carding a final-round 301 to finish the day in sixth place at 31-over 1183. The Tigers,More >>
The Auburn women's golf team concluded its improbable run through the NCAA Championship Friday, carding a final-round 301 to finish the day in sixth place at 31-over 1183.More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 2:09 AM EDT2013-05-25 06:09:41 GMT
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Much like the regular season series against Tennessee, the Alabama softball team had its chances but fell by a single run, this time 3-2, in the first game of the Knoxville SuperMore >>
Much like the regular season series against Tennessee, the Alabama softball team had its chances but fell by a single run, this time 3-2, in the first game of the Knoxville Super Regional.More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 12:40 AM EDT2013-05-25 04:40:27 GMT
This month, The American Urological Association took a new position on prostate cancer screenings. Now the AUA wants men between 55 and 69 to be tested. It is no longer recommended that screenings startMore >>
This month, The American Urological Association took a new position on prostate cancer screenings. Now the AUA wants men between 55 and 69 to be tested. More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 12:30 AM EDT2013-05-25 04:30:30 GMT
ATHENS, Ga. -- The No. 2 Alabama women's golf team struggled to the finish in the final round of the NCAA Championships on the par-72, 6,372-yard University of Georgia Golf Course Friday. The CrimsonMore >>
The No. 2 Alabama women's golf team struggled to the finish in the final round of the NCAA Championships Friday in Athens, Ga. More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 10:32 PM EDT2013-05-25 02:32:07 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) - Four girls killed in an Alabama church bombing during the civil rights movement are receiving the highest honor Congress gives to civilians. President Barack Obama signed legislationMore >>
Four girls killed in an Alabama church bombing during the civil rights movement are receiving the highest honor Congress gives to civilians. More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 10:18 PM EDT2013-05-25 02:18:18 GMT
The Alabama Department of Public Health is working with other health agencies to investigate an injectable anti-inflammatory drug prepared by a compounding manufacturer in Tennessee. Main Street FamilyMore >>
Alabama joins investigation of recalled drugMore >>
Friday, May 24 2013 10:09 PM EDT2013-05-25 02:09:48 GMT
Police have made an arrest in the homicide investigation stemming from a fatal shooting in Birmingham's West End Thursday.Christopher Gunn, 28, of Birmingham, has been charged with murder for the shootingMore >>
Christopher Gunn, 28, of Birmingham, has been charged with murder for the shooting death of 20-year-old Carlos Mims.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 9:53 PM EDT2013-05-25 01:53:02 GMT
BY Sean Cartell, SEC Digital NetworkHOOVER, Ala. -- Second-seeded LSU rallied from a one-run deficit with two outs in the top of the ninth inning Friday to defeat seventh-seeded Alabama, 3-2, and advanceMore >>
LSU rallied from a one-run deficit with two outs in the top of the ninth inning Friday to defeat Alabama, 3-2.More >>