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Sandy Hook School's Fate: More Community Voices

Parents and community members offered a wide variety of opinions at a town forum Sunday -- read excerpts from some suggestions.

 

 at Newtown High School for the first in a series of community forums to determine the fate of Sandy Hook Elementary School building following the school shooting that took the lives of 20 children and six adults. Parents and community members offered a variety of opinions, including the excerpts below.

"I'm the father of a Sandy Hook first grader, but also two four-year-olds who will be in there in a couple years. My daughter lost her best friend that day, and we lost a close family friend of ours. I'm not going to comment as to what I think should happen to the building. I think there's been a lot of good ideas presented here. But I wanted to make two comments. One, don't redistrict no matter what. Two, let's make a decision. We have to take the appropriate amount of time, I understand that -- we have to get opinions, and everybody's ideas -- a vote, or whatever the appropriate mechanism is to make a decision. Our children need stability. They lost a lot. And the faster we can make a decision ... as to what this school is like and who's going to be there, then they can start look forward and look to the future as well."

-- Glenn Shepherd

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"I'm a Sandy Hook School mom. I have a fifth grader who graduated from Sandy Hook last year and a 2nd-grader who was in the building that day. My son wants to go back  to Sandy Hook. He could not understand why we couldn't go back to the building. He does not like Chalk Hill, he spends a lot of time in the hug room and in the nurse's office. Having an upstairs has really been a negative for him, because there's furniture moving above their heads -- there's lots of noises that the kids are not used to in the building. We had an awful lot of triggers for kids who heard things that day ... However, I cannot ask those teachers to go back if they don't want to. I cannot ask friends whose children escaped that day from those two classrooms to go back. If people are going to be traumatized by going back into the building, I can't ask them to. I wonder whether or not we could build a new facility where the field is, and turn the school into a memorial park."

-- Christine Wilford

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"My son was directly across from the affected rooms. He saw more and heard more than any child ever should, let alone any person ever should ... His best friend doesn't want to go back, and I would never want to make someone go back that doesn't want to. I also heard him say -- as the banging was happening -- 'I'd be surprised if today was the end of my days.' So I have a seven-year-old who contemplated his death at that moment. And before I came to this meeting, [he asked] 'I'm at Chalk Hill. How long am I going to be there? What's going to happen?' I said, 'The mommies and daddies are going to get together and talk about what's going to happen.' And he looked at me blank. He said, 'What do you mean? It's my school. What else would it be?'

I look at [how much he] took that day. He took their friends. He took their teachers. He took their sense of security. He took their innocence. He took their childhood. I don't want to give him the school ... I'm not saying my answer is right or wrong. I'm looking at it through the eyes of a child who just can't understand what else it could be."

-- Amy Taber, Sandy Hook mother

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"I feel so touched and privileged to be among you all today, to hear the heartfelt and heartbroken sharings. To me, the fact that the whole town's heart was broken open -- and the fact it didn't just happen to us, it happened to the whole world -- was something quite remarkable and special. As we listen to all these different ideas, it sounds like they're in conflict. It's a conundrum. I think back to the history of this town, which has been at times very divisive. I would hate to see a 52-48% vote on what to do. In this broken-open space we're in, I think so much more is now possible. Whether we like it not, this town has changed. We can't go back to what things were ... Things might be possible now that nobody in this room has yet thought of. It's so raw still, it hasn't settled in, and there's a pressure to act and resolve and move forward. 

My wish for us is that we stay in this decision until we find something that not only are we thrilled and delighted as a town that we've come up with something that works for us, but that when the world thinks of Newtown two years from now or five years from now ... they don't think of this as just where something awful happened. They think of this place where something amazing and beautiful happened. That's the legacy. That's the way we truly create a memorial to honor those lives that we lost."

-- Ben Roberts, Hawleyville resident

Tom Joad January 16, 2013 at 04:52 PM
Pardon me, I was unaware I was supposed to offer multiple solutions. I take issue with putting our children on a dopey reality show. I happen to fully agree with every single other point you have made.
Tony January 16, 2013 at 08:07 PM
I respectfully disagree. We owe the parents a place to memorialize their children and any other resources to help them as needed. We also owe the people of Newtown a plan to make all the schools safe. SHES is one of 4 elementary schools and SandyHook is part of Newtown. The town(tax payers) and BOE needs to decide on the fate of the school for the good of the community and the town. The schools are what attracts people to Newtown and they need to understand the pros/cons of keeping/removing the school for both the short and long-term. Sandy Hook Elem School, to the outside world, will only known as a place of horrific acts. We have to consider the impact of keeping the school and it's name and what impact it will have on new families moving to Newtown. I strongly believe that the families of SHES will not be able to reach a consensus. Some will want their kids to stay, others will move and yet others will sue the town. It will be impossible to make everyone happy and that is why the BOE ultimately has to decide what is right for all of the Newtown school system.
Robert Zatulskis January 16, 2013 at 10:52 PM
I don't know if it makes more sense to tear the building down or to remodel/renovate but I think a school should be built on that site and it should be the showpiece for school safety. Let it be the benchmark for how other schools are put together. I don't know how long it would take to build something like that but it would make sense to do it sooner rather than later so that 1) the sandy hook student can go back to a sandy hook school and 2) the momentum of people looking for a way to help can be translated into action to complete the project quickly. It's just my opinion but I think this is how Newtown can stand up and show everyone how to move forward from such a horrible tragedy.
mon January 17, 2013 at 12:42 PM
My heart breaks for the residents of Newton, it is such a difficult decision. Being a teacher in Canada I am touched and moved by how your community has come together. I sit here and try to think of a solution and the only solution I can think of is you community is coming together and showing the world how resilient you are. May God Bless all of you.
Ed Pray January 27, 2013 at 08:05 PM
Bless you Part 2. love somebody

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