The students of Sandy Hook Elementary returned to school Thursday (Jan. 3), nearly a month after the shooting massacre that rocked the nation and killed 20 children. Chalk Hill Middle School, an unused facility near Sandy Hook, will act as the new location for the students.
Volunteers worked hard to prepare the classrooms, which mirror that of Sandy Hook, so as to help the more than 400 children adjust better.
Unlike the media cluster that swarmed Newtown, Conn. and the school, after the shooting, members of the press have been kept further away from the new location. “Most of the kids were excited,” said Monroe, Conn., Police Lt. Keith White. “They were anxious to get into the hallways and meet up with the other kids, and you could see the teachers had the same response.”
Former principal Donna Page will resume the position from which she retired in 2010, since her successor, Dawn Hochsprung, was killed during the mass shooting. “We didn't think it was possible until we got a voicemail from Donna reintroducing herself and saying that when she heard [about the shooting] she knew it was the calling that she needed to come out of retirement and take the position of head of school,” Sandy Hook parent, Karen Dryer, who also volunteers in her 5-year-old son's class, told ABC News. “I started crying when I heard the message. It's still emotional. It was such a blessing and such an amazing relief because it was like, 'Oh my, now we can breathe. They're going to be okay.'”
The parents who lost their children are also working to move forward from the tragedy. The mother of 6-year-old Ana Grace Márquez-Greene posted a heartfelt Christmas message dedicated to her young daughter via a Facebook page created in memory of the child. “Sweet Ana, I know our healing as a family will come only from our heavenly Father,” she wrote. “I know this is your best Christmas yet- at home with our Lord and Saviour. As your mom I just wish we could have had a few more to celebrate here on earth. You died so needlessly. For Christmas I bought you a Kindle Fire HD the night before you died. My Christmas promise to you now is to continue to love the Lord with all my heart, mind and strength and to do whatever I can to make sure more kids can be safe... and to send out the message that "love wins". I still sleep with your special blanket, most nights in your bed.”