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Citizens, Parents Discuss Fate of Sandy Hook Elementary School After Tragic Shooting

Citizens, Parents Discuss Fate of Sandy Hook Elementary School After Tragic Shooting

Just one month after the tragedy that rocked a picturesque small town, school administrators and local citizens are now discussing the fate of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

On Sunday afternoon, a few hundred locals gathered at nearby Newtown High School to discuss if students and teachers eventually need to return to the site where 20 children and six adults lost their lives in mid-December. Opinions were mixed.

"It's hard to imagine my child walking back into the building," said one parent in attendance.

Others feel the school should be remodeled and possibly renamed for Victoria Soto, the 27-year-old teacher who died while attempting to shield her students from the lone gunman. The mayor of Stratford, Conn., where Soto grew up and attended school is also considering naming a future school building after her.

"I have two children who had everything taken from them," said Audrey Bart, whose children attend the school but weren't injured in the shooting. "The Sandy Hook Elementary School is their school. It is not the world's school. It is not Newtown's school. We cannot pretend it never happened, but I am not prepared to ask my children to run and hide. You can't take away their school."

One suggestion from retired officer Fran Bresson who also attended the school in the 1950s is to reopen the existing facility but to demolish the classrooms were the teachers and students were slain.

"To tear it down completely would be like saying to evil, 'You've won," noted Bresson.

Students began returning to classes in a vacant school building in nearby Monroe, Conn., that has been renamed Sandy Hook Elementary. On the first day of classes, armed police officers were present.

Monroe Police Public Information Officer Lt. Brian McCauley told The Christian Post on Monday that two police officers have been assigned to Sandy Hook on a full-time basis and one officer is stationed at the entrance to make sure only those who have business at the school are admitted.

"We're very concerned about security at the school and have chosen to provide protection for the foreseeable future," McCauley said.

Prior to the Sandy Hook shooting, Monroe provided a school resource officer at every middle and high school and now has assigned officers to each elementary school.

The Christian Post attempted to reach Lt. George Sinko of the Newtown Police Dept. to inquire about school security after the shooting but did not receive a response prior to publication.

Three schools where children died at the hands of gunman have dealt with the issue differently.

Virginia Tech converted the building where 30 people lost their lives in 2007 into a violence prevention and peace studies center.

At Columbine High School, where two gunmen killed 12 fellow students, the school later reopened and replaced the library with an atrium.

Five girls lost their lives at West Nickel Mines Amish School in 2006 and the small building was torn down and another built several hundred yards from the original site.

A second meeting is planned for Friday with the goal to reach a final decision sometime in March.

"I think we have to start that conversation now," Newtown First Selectwoman (Alderman) Patricia Llodra told AP. "It will take many, many months to do any kind of school project. We have very big decisions ahead of us. The goal is to bring our students home as soon as we can."


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