December 27, 2012

Newtown trying to give kids a sense of normalcy

The Associated Press

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Easton police officer J. Sollazzo waves to returning children as their bus pulls into Hawley School, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. Classes resume 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. Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before killing himself.(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

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Volunteer Anthony Vessicchio of East Haven, Conn., helps to sort tables full of donated toys at the town hall in Newtown, Conn., Friday, Dec. 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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"We certainly don't want to traumatize them any more than they've already been traumatized," said Lt. J. Paul Vance, the department's spokesman. "If (an interview is) not necessary it won't be done. Our investigators will make all those determinations."

In the meantime, Ford has encouraged parents to keep the kids involved in a normal holiday routine and deal with the tragedy as it comes up, rather than making it a focal point of their lives.

David Connors, who has 8-year-old triplets who attend Sandy Hook, said he and his wife have made play dates with their friends, brought the kids to see family for the holidays and participated in the class get-togethers and recreation events.

"That's been, I think, helpful at least in the short term just to kind of keep them doing things, keep them seeing their friends and being nearby and talking to family," Connors said.

Todd Wood of Newtown has five children, the youngest age 4 and the oldest in college. His children's piano teacher lost a child in the shooting, and the family knows other victims as well.

He said he's found that each child has reacted differently to the tragedy. He said he is not making the shooting the center of his family's life but is not pretending it didn't happen, either.

"We did Christmas, we had our lights here, we've tried to make things as normal as possible," he said. "But we also went down to see the memorials. I don't want to shield them from it. I want to let them grieve in their own way."

Ford said that is healthy. He said children will remember their friends as they go about doing normal kid things.

Chris Wolcott, the sport's academy's operations manager, said the best part of having the kids at the center is that the tragedy is pushed aside, at least for a little while.

"A couple times someone would drop a weight (in the facility's health center) and you would hear a bang and there would be a kid who would freeze for a second," he said. "But that would last a split-second. Most of the time, everyone just had a great time."

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