December 19, 2012

Classes resume in Newtown, except Sandy Hook

The Associated Press

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.

click image to enlarge

Family and friends react after attending the wake of school shooting victim Victoria Soto, a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Stratford, Conn., Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012. Soto, 27, was killed when Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14, and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before killing himself. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

click image to enlarge

Classes resumed Tuesday for Newtown schools except those at Sandy Hook. Buses ferrying students to schools were festooned with large green and white ribbons on the front grills, the colors of Sandy Hook. At Newtown High School, students in sweatshirts and jackets, many wearing headphones, betrayed mixed emotions.

AP

Additional Photos Below

Related headlines

Unspecified threat forces Newtown school lockdown

A school principal at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school says it has been locked down due to unspecified threats.

Most schools in Newtown opened on Tuesday, four days after a gunman fatally shot 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

But in a letter to parents published by WFSB-TV, the principal says students at Head O'Meadow Elementary School should stay home because police were prepared to have the school in lockdown. School officials said the lockdown was normal procedure because some threats were predicted by police.

All other schools in town, except Sandy Hook, opened on Tuesday.

A police dispatcher would not confirm the lockdown.

– The Associated Press

Funerals were held for two more of the tiny fallen, a 6-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl. A total of 26 people were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S history. The gunman also killed his mother in her home before committing suicide.

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. Volunteers and town officials have been making the Chalk Hill School safe and suitable for them, the Connecticut Post reported.

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. Memorial services and wakes were also held for some of the adult victims.

As mourners gathered outside, a motorcade led by police motorcycles arrived for the funeral of little James, who especially loved recess and math and who was described by his family as a "numbers guy" who couldn't wait until he was old enough to order a foot-long Subway sandwich.

Traffic in front of the church slowed to a crawl as police directed vehicles into the parking lot. A school bus carrying elementary students got stuck in traffic, and the children, pressing their faces into the windows, sadly watched as the mourners assembled.

Inside the church, James' mother stood and remembered him.

"It was very somber, it was very sad, it was very moving," said Clare Savarese, who taught the boy in preschool and recalled him as "a lovely little boy, a sweet little angel."

The service had not concluded when mourners began arriving for the funeral of Jessica, who loved horses and was counting the years until she turned 10, when her family had promised her a horse of her own. For Christmas, she had asked Santa for new cowgirl boots and hat.

"We are devastated, and our hearts are with the other families who are grieving as we are," her parents, Rich and Krista Rekos, said in a statement.

At a wake for 27-year-old first-grade teacher Victoria Soto, hundreds of mourners, many wearing green-and-white ribbons, stood in a line that wrapped around a funeral home in nearby Stratford.

"Big smile, great eyes, just a wonderful person," Lauren Ostrofsky said of Soto, who was killed as she tried to shield her students from the gunman. "If anyone could be an example of what a person should be today, it's her."

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors


Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Barbara Wells of Shelton, Conn., holds her daughter Olivia, 3, as she pays her respects Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 at one of the makeshift memorials for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

click image to enlarge

A makeshift memorial of 27 small and one large American flag stands by the side of Highway 84 near the Newtown, Conn., town line on Monday.

AP

click image to enlarge

An ornament for Noah Pozner hangs on a tree at one of the makeshift memorials for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 in Newtown, Conn. Pozner was killed when a gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

click image to enlarge

A mourner arrives at the funeral service for 6-year-old Noah Pozner in Fairfield, Conn., on Monday. Pozner was one of 26 people killed in Friday's mass shooting.

AP

click image to enlarge

Mourners arrive at the funeral service for 6-year-old Jack Pinto on Monday, in Newtown, Conn. Pinto was one of the 26 people killed when Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened fire on Friday.

AP

click image to enlarge

Newtown Police Officer Maryhelen McCarthy places flowers at a makeshift memorial outside St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church on Sunday in Newtown, Conn.

AP

click image to enlarge

A mourner leaves the funeral service of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim, Jack Pinto, 6, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. Pinto was killed when a gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  


Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)