Surviving students of the Newtown school massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary are being relocated to a new school, but volunteers are going out of their way to make it feel like “home”. The walls have been painted green and white (the school colors), desks are being arranged much like the ones they’re used to, and even the same posters are being placed on the walls.
In the past week hundreds of volunteers worked to replicate the school the surviving students came from. Electricians, Locksmiths, plumbers, custodians, experts in security systems, even citizens with paint brushes all volunteered to form an around-the-clock renovation team, which peaked at 500.
Shelley, a Red Slider turtle, the mascot that the students took turns feeding at the original elementary school has also made the trip to Monroe, Connecticut, and into the Library.
Steve Vavrek, Monroe’s first selectman said:
“They’re going to come back, and if little Chaz had a desk near the window, he’ll have the same desk by the window. It’s basically as close to how they left it.”
Newtown officials decided that the Sandy Hook Elementary School students wouldn’t return to the same building after the holidays, but to the former Chalk Hill School, a building that had been months from being named a community center and space for a local theater and ballet.
The new school is about eight miles south of Newtown, states The Hartford Courant.
Newtown Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson said concerning Sandy Hook’s almost 30 teachers and staff members:
“We’re going to have a lot of support for them. Certainly, if they need more time, they can have more time. But I think many don’t want their children — they own those children — they don’t want them to be with a substitute. So I think most of them are going to try to come back.”
Lieutenant Brian McCauley, Monroe’s public information officer added that many of the contractors preferred to remain anonymous:
“There’s so many people from so many trades and walks of life. These people don’t even know each other, but they’re working like they’ve been partners for a long time.”
The move of an entire school from Newtown to Monroe was about 98 percent done by Thursday afternoon, and expedited by state and local officials. Late Saturday afternoon, eight or nine officials walked the halls and classrooms of Chalk Hill, which had closed a year ago because of declining enrollment and budget problems, Vavrek said according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Monroe will run the outside of the school, and Newtown will take care of the inside, stated Vavrek. The move and renovation won’t cost Newtown.
The one project left to complete is changing the sign out front from “Chalk Hill School” to “Sandy Hook Elementary School.”