Archives for category: Newtown

For the people of Newtown, Connecticut, Christmas came and Christmas went. Packages were opened, gifts were handed out, shrieks of childhood joy filled the homes of the Connecticut town. New Year’s Day came and went as well, as people counted down 2016 in the hopes of a better 2017.

For 26 families in Newton, the celebration was somewhat somber if not muted. 20 children will never see another Christmas or leave milk and cookies for Santa. Six teachers will never exchange gifts with families and friends. They will never see a New Year’s Day Parade or football game, go to a prom, get married or have their own children.

December 14th marked the four-year anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that took their lives. On December 14th, the town held a moment of silence to mark the anniversary of the shooting. In their honor and to remember those that perished, Newtown first selectman Pat Llodra asked town employees to refrain from doing any work, including answering phones, between 9:30 a.m. and 9:45 a.m., the time that the shootings took place. As for the schools in Newton, it was going to be a regular school day but School Superintendent Joseph Erardi said there would be quiet reflections and age-appropriate messages for students.

While the rest of America on the East coast was getting ready to start their school day and most of America was about to start their workday or go Christmas shopping, Adam Lanza decided to take matters into his own hands by first shooting and killing his mother, then go on his rampage, which ended with his death at his own hands.

President Barack Obama said in a Facebook post that the anniversary was a day to remember staff and teachers who guided children to safety, the first responders and the victims.

“And we remember the children who held each other in the face of unconscionable evil; who, even as they’ve grown up in the shadow of this tragedy, will grow up loved and cared for more fiercely than ever,” Obama wrote.

26 people dead. Murdered. They will never meet Santa, will never go to a Christmas party or a Midnight mass again. Their parents, families and friends deprived of love and joy because of a crazed man that decided to take himself out of the world instead of facing justice. This is in no way an attempt to get rid of guns or do away with the 2nd Amendment; rather, this is the time for medical experts, educators, victims and the advocates of those that are no longer with us, legislators and the NRA to sit at table and have a meaningful discussion. It’s not going to be easy and there will be resistance but if even one life is saved, it’s worth the battle.

In a few days, it will be Valentine’s Day. Cards will be passed out and exchanged and cupcakes will be consumed. For Sandy Hook Elementary School, there will be 26 fewer cards passed out and 26 fewer cupcakes eaten. Here’s to hoping that Lanza’s name will never pass the lips of those that are still there, that it will NEVER be uttered again, either here on Earth or in Heaven. Here’s to hoping that those cupcakes will be consumed and those cards passed out in their honor.

The public got a look at the new Sandy Hook Elementary School last week. Built on the site of the old school, the one where 20 students and six educators were killed by Adam Lanza before he took his own life, they saw a new building that was designed to be attractive, friendly to the environment, a place conducive to learning.

And the most important thing?

A place that is safe.

The new $50 million, 86,000-square-foot school was built on the same property but not in the old footprint, and is scheduled to open next month and local officials are hopeful that allowing the public to see the new school will give students a “quiet, respectful and appropriate opening as teachers and students return to the new school year,” Superintendent Joseph Erardi told the Hartford Courant and the Associated Press. The school, built with funds from a state grant, has features in place, including impact-resistant windows and state-of-the-art monitors. As for the ground floor, it will be elevated, which will make it harder for anyone to see inside the classrooms from the outside. It’s also been landscaped to ensure that if you are approaching the school, you’re visible to those that are inside and can enter by way of one of three pedestrian bridges and the outside has been changed to invoke nature, with tree houses and courtyards.

The driveway and parking lots? They’ve been changed as well, done so to minimize the emotional impact on teachers and students that will be seeing the property for the first time since the shooting in December 2012.

In a statement to the media, First Selectman Pat Llodra said, “Our goal was to create a place of community and learning, a place that would honor those we lost and allow those who were left behind the chance to move forward.”

Since the shooting, Sandy Hook students have been attending school in neighboring Monroe, which renovated a previously closed elementary school for the Newtown children after the shooting. The new school will serve students from pre-kindergarten through fourth grade.

As for the student population, there will be about 390 students enrolled this fall and 70 of those, all now fourth-graders, were students at the old school when the shooting occurred, Erardi said. About 35 of them were in the building at the time, he said, attending the morning kindergarten session.

Fortunately, None of them witnessed the shootings, which were heard throughout the school, prompting students to hide where they could in their classrooms until the building was cleared by police. The shooting occurred before the afternoon kindergarten session. Erardi also said that because of retirements and transfers, about 60 percent of the staff members from
the original Sandy Hook are still with the school and the school district will provide those students and staff with special resources to help cope with the return and added that a three-year, $7.1 million grant to fund added mental health professionals has expired. But grants from charities will cover those costs.

As for a memorial to those 20 students and six educators that died that day, there will not not have a prominent memorial to the Sandy Hook victims and Erardi declined to say whether they will be remembered in some other way. He told the Courant “I’m going to pass on answering that, because it involves the conversations I’ve had with the impacted families and those will always remain confidential.” Llodra said the town is still deciding on a permanent memorial. “That will not be on this site, there is nothing subtle that you missed,” Llodra said.

While most of America’s school children are dreading the start of school, there are some that are excited to see their friends and new teachers, 20 young souls will never get to have that experience again. They will never have the chance to have recess, swap lunches, play, learn, laugh and exchange Christmas or Valentines Day cards. They are gone, wiped off the planet by a madman that decided to promote his own agenda. I wouldn’t blame anyone at Sandy Hook Elementary School if Adam Lanza’s name was never uttered again. He doesn’t deserve it. He deserves to be scorned forever. Adam Lanza could have surrendered and at the very least, stand trial for his actions. He chose the coward’s way out.

August 29th falls on a Monday, a week before Labor Day. While students prepare for that day to start the learning process all over and teachers and staff prepare for a year of learning, laughter and fun, let’s not forget the ones that died, the ones that were minding their own business, getting ready to learn while most of America was starting their school day in the Eastern and Central time zones.

In one classroom, a refrigerator magnet reads “We are Newtown, we choose love.”

Adam Lanza though he destroyed Sandy Hook. In the end, Adam Lanza failed and did so miserably. The remaining students, faculty, staff, nation and community rallied around their school.

They chose to rise from the ashes and rebuild.

They chose to be butterflies.

Christmas came.

Christmas went.

The gifts were opened, the toys played with over and over again until either the batteries died or they were broken.

For 20 families in Newtown, Connecticut, there were 20 less children playing with toys. 20 less children filled with joy and glee over the gift they had been writing Santa to and bugging their parents about. 20 less little angels trying to get peeks at Santa to see if he’s real and the reindeer fly.

December 14 of 2012 for some of us was just another school day. It marked the one week period to Christmas break. It was a normal day for some until a madman came in and destroyed the peace and quiet of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

On that day, 20-year-old shooter Adam Lanza terrorized the town 49 miles south of Hartford, with a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle — killing 20 schoolchildren, six school staffers, his mother and himself. The town’s quiet downtown Main Street has been stripped of any ribbons, memorials and mementos of that horrible day.

Adam Lanza was no Santa Claus that day. Adam Lanza was more like the Grinch and Scrooge rolled into one. But unlike Lanza, even the Grinch and Scrooge had a heart and soul and knew that their actions were wrong and chose to make the change. They chose to listen to their better angels. Adam Lanza? He did not.

Few memories are left of that day. The house where Lanza started his murder spree when he shot and killed his mother is gone. Torn down, never to rise again. However, there is hope and like the mythical bird the Phoenix, on the site of the Sandy Hook Elementary school, a new elementary is rising where the old one was knocked down. After becoming a crime scene, the old Sandy Hook Elementary was razed in 2013 and last week construction workers were building a new school on the same Dickinson Drive property. The new building is rising near where the old one stood but not in its exact footprint — the plan is to leave the tragic site as green space. The flagpole from the old school will be the only relic of the place where the attack happened.

“No one is going to forget what happened,” said George Marnelakis, who owns the Blue Colony Diner in town. He told the Hartford Courant, “We don’t need reminders. I don’t think anyone wants to talk about it. The families want to heal.” One of Newtown’s few markers for those lost three years ago is an angel statue standing near St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, where many of the funerals were held.

Retired Newtown Police Officer Mike Brokaw, 60, recently took a minute to reflect in front of the small monument, known as the “Angel of Hope.” Someone had placed white flowers in the angel’s outstretched hands. “I remember when the call came in. I ran over there,” he said. “It was a hard thing to even fathom. It was an unbelievable scenario.”

While 20 children died, let’s not forget the six adults at the school that tried to save the children that were in their care. They took the term “in loco parentis” to the highest of heights, standing up to Lanza and dying in their efforts to save those that were injured and keep the death toll down.

In a few days or so, schools will reopen for the second half of the school year. A few days after that will be MLK Day, then Valentine’s Day, then Spring, Easter and the last day of school. For some, when that last day of school comes, children will leave and enjoy their Summers off. That will not be the case for the 20 that died that Friday morning in Newton. They were innocent victims that probably didn’t know Adam Lanza from any other adult that walked through that school.

20 fewer children and six fewer adults celebrated Christmas on this Earth December 25th in Newtown, Connecticut. Adam Lanza’s actions that day if nothing else should tell us that it is time that we have a discussion about gun control, even if it means that one side would have to be taken to the table kicking and screaming. This was no hoax, it wasn’t staged and there wasn’t a director yelling “cut” a the end. It was real. Let me say it again, it was REAL and people that didn’t need to die or deserve to die did so. It’s time that the NRA join the rest of us in the real world and take some form of responsibility, not washing their hands like Pilate.

This is not about taking guns away from those that purchase them legally, it’s about keeping them out of the hands of those that don’t need or deserve them.

Adam Lanza was irresponsible that morning. He knew right from wrong and chose wrong. Adam Lanza could have faced justice and probably would have been treated fairly. He probably would have been punished but he would have been treated fairly. Instead, Adam Lanza chose to take himself out by shooting and eventually killing himself.

Newton continues to move on. What happened cannot be undone. You can’t un-ring a bell, as the saying goes. Jesus said “Blessed are those who mourn, they will find comfort.” For the 20 children and six adults that died that December morning, they celebrated Christmas in Heaven with the angels.

Like the scene in Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” there were empty chairs. Those 20 children will never grow up and have the experience of seeing their own children get up on Christmas morning. Adam Lanza may have taken the physical and he may have taken the emotional but he failed at taking the spirit of Christmas. Adam Lanza’s name hopefully will never be uttered again in that town, unless a swear word follows it. He deserves our scorn and anger.

God bless us, everyone.

The people have spoken loudly. In a few days, it will be no more.

Gone.

Turned into rubble.

And if you’re thinking about taking a piece of it for yourself, think again. It’s not going to happen.

Nothing will remain.

Nihil.

The home where Adam Lanza lived will be torn down and its fate was decided by the Newtown Legislative Council. For those who had forgotten who Adam Lanaza was, he is the man that went on a shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. Lanza had killed his mother first before going on the rampage that killed 20 students and six adults that Friday before Christmas. According to the Hartford Courant and the Associated Press, the vote by the Newtown Legislative Council approved a proposal by the board of selectmen to raze the 3,100-square-foot home and keep the land as open space. Lanza would eventually escape justice, taking the coward’s way out by shooting and killing himself.

The house of horror and pain will remain standing until the Winter and then will be torn down. One resident said it was a “constant reminder of the evil that resided there,” after residents pleaded to have the large yellow house with green shutters destroyed. First selectwoman Pat Llorda said that she was unsure how much the demolition would cost but gave an estimate of around $27,000.

The Lanza family moved from southern New Hampshire and bought the new house in 1998. It has been sitting vacant since the shooting. Everything inside, including rugs and lighting fixtures, have been removed and incinerated so nothing could become memorabilia.

No one wants to be reminded of what happened that day. 20 young lives lost, their parents denied the pleasure of seeing them learn how to drive, graduate from high school and college and perhaps present them with grandchildren. Some that lived near the house of horror have moved, including Amy DeLoughy, whose house sits across the street, wrote to the council that her
children’s bus stop had to be moved because it was too scary for the kids to wait near the house.

Ian and Nicole Hockley, whose 6-year-old son, Dylan, died in the shooting, have said they moved out of the neighborhood because seeing that house across the way was too painful for them.

Neighbor Dave Ackart wrote, “Not only is the property a constant reminder of the evil that resided there — those of us who walk, run, drive, ride or otherwise must pass it multiple times a day, are having a hard time moving on.”

Neighbors had been pleading with town officials to tear down the house of the mass murderer, with one resident saying it’s “a constant reminder of the evil that resided there.” Their prayers will be answered very soon. For that house to stand would be like Lanza rubbing it in from the grave.

Legislative Council member Phillip Carroll said a Sandy Hook fundraiser that brought in $1.2 million still has about $260,000 left. “The money for the demolition can come from this fund,” he said.

Llodra has asked town attorneys to write something into the deed that will prohibit the town from profiting from any future sale or development of the land. “Any proceeds, should the property ever be developed, would be for the benefit of the victims,” she said.

But neighbors say it has become a destination for macabre tourists “who still drive by and pause and take photos on a regular basis,” Ackart told the Associated Press.

While Llodra said she polled the victims’ families and neighbors and most support the plan to tear the house down, not everyone is on board with the idea of leaving the space open, some even wanting the property to be sold and a new house placed there.

“Leaving the property to nature would mean there is still a sense of darkness in our neighborhood,” one person said. “Love and light that a new family would bring would help heal some of the very deep wounds we are still tending to.”

In a few days, it will be Valentine’s Day and gifts and candy will be exchanged in classroom at Newtown and all over the nation. There will be 20 fewer faces in class that day. Gone before their time. Gone before they had a chance to make a mark on the world, along with the six adults that were there not just as their protectors but as their guides, guardians and teachers. A few days after that, trucks and bulldozers will come to the house that produced the horror that Sandy Hook was forced to endure. In a few hours, that house of horror will be nothing more than rubble. Could there be a memorial with 20 chairs or 26 trees in memory of those that died? It’s plausible. Adam Lanza deserves scorn. His name should never be uttered again in our lifetimes. Not even Satan wants anything to do with him.

Adam Lanza could have stood up to justice and be held accountable for his actions. In the bigger picture, he chose to be a coward and die at his own hand. The house where he started his spree of death and chaos sits empty, the memories that are too harsh to remember were turned to ashes. When the wrecking ball or bulldozer comes, there will be some tears shed but those will be tears of joy. The monster that caused them heartbreak and pain is dead and his castle will crumble as well. It will be like the field that Judas Isacriot was buried in, forgotten for eternity.

Adam Lanza. Cold. Callous. Sociopath. Murderer. Lanza thought he got the last word in when he killed 26 people.

In a few months, Spring will arrive in Connecticut and the people of Newtown will have the last word and give new meaning to the term “homewrecker.”