NEWTOWN, Conn. – Newtown returned its students to their classrooms Tuesday for the first time since last week’s massacre and faced the agonizing task of laying others to rest, as this grieving town wrestled with the same issues gripping the country: violence, gun control and finding a way forward.
Funerals were held for two more of the tiny fallen, a 6-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl.
The resumption of classes at all Newtown’s schools except Sandy Hook brought a return of familiar routines, something students seemed to welcome as they arrived aboard buses festooned with large green-and-white ribbons – the colors of the stricken elementary school.
“We’re going to be able to comfort each other and try and help each other get through this, because that’s the only way we’re going to do it,” said 17-year-old P.J. Hickey, a senior at Newtown High School. “Nobody can do this alone.” Still, he noted: “There’s going to be no joy in school. It really doesn’t feel like Christmas anymore.”
The students who survived the Sandy Hook shooting will return to class after the winter break in neighboring Monroe at a school that was closed last year.
At St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newtown, back-to-back funerals were held for first-graders James Mattioli and Jessica Rekos, the third and fourth so far and the first of eight to be held in the coming days at the church.