Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut — site of one of the largest and most horrific mass murders in recent memory, during which 20 first-grade children and six adult employees were gunned down — still stands, but it may not remain in its current form, a topic that has come to the forefront as the fate of Sandy Hook school is discussed.
Sandy Hook Elementary joins Columbine High School and Virginia Tech among sites that became infamous due to horrifying murders, yet still serve a vital function in their communities. In the wake of the shootings, Sandy Hook’s surviving students were relocated to a site seven miles away, and Sandy Hook Elementary remains a vacant crime scene, a shell reminding all in Newtown what they have lost — but the difficulty therein is that if the building is razed, the loss remains.
How to handle the future of the actual structure and fate of the Sandy Hook school is now a question those in charge of such decisions are forced to consider, even as residents admit the discussion is still difficult as the pain is raw. Some feel the building should be razed and replaced with a memorial (the specifics of which have yet to be considered), while others feel the building should not be demolished after the massacre.
Newtown parent Laurie Badick says that even as a resident and mother with kids who attended Sandy Hook, the question is a complex one. She explains:
“I’m very torn … Sandy Hook school meant the world to us before this happened … I have my memories in my brain and in my heart, so the actual building, I think the victims need to decide what to do with that.”
Parent of two current Sandy Hook Elementary students, Audrey Bart, is in favor of leaving the building where it stands. At a recent meeting to address the Sandy Hook issue, Bart argued:
“I have two children who had everything taken from them … The Sandy Hook Elementary School is their school. It is not the world’s school. It is not Newtown’s school. We cannot pretend it never happened, but I am not prepared to ask my children to run and hide. You can’t take away their school.”
NBCNewYork also quotes Mergim Bajraliu, a senior at Newtown High School. The teen attended Sandy Hook as a child, and says that adding a memorial is a better choice, as Newtown residents should refuse to allow the gunman to take any more from them:
“We have our best childhood memories at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and I don’t believe that one psychopath — who I refuse to name — should get away with taking away any more than he did on [December] 14.”
“I think we have to start that conversation now … It will take many, many months to do any kind of school project. We have very big decisions ahead of us. The goal is to bring our students home as soon as we can.”
Llodra confirms that a final decision on whether to demolish Sandy Hook Elementary is expected by March.