Skip to main content

Sandy Hook students return to class for first time since Newtown shooting

By Olivia Smith and David Ariosto, CNN
January 3, 2013 -- Updated 1937 GMT (0337 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sandy Hook Elementary students return to class for the first time since the December 14 shooting
  • They will travel to Chalk Hill Middle School in the nearby town of Monroe, Connecticut
  • The gunman shot his mother before killing 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary

(CNN) -- For the first time since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Christine Wilford plans do something remarkable on Thursday that once was routine: drop her child off at school.

The last time her 7-year-old son, Richie, was in class was on December 14, when a gunman smashed his way into his school in Newtown, Connecticut, and killed 26 children and adults.

As shots rang out, Richie's teacher locked the door and huddled her students into the corner as the shooter roamed the hallways, wielding an AR-15 assault rifle and firing.

When it appeared safe, the children were then hurried away to a nearby fire station, where teary parents either reunited with their sons and daughters or learned that they had been killed.

Candles burn next to a lighted tree at a makeshift shrine in Newtown, Connecticut, commemorating the victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. Candles burn next to a lighted tree at a makeshift shrine in Newtown, Connecticut, commemorating the victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.
Reaction to Newtown school killings
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Reaction to Newtown school killings Reaction to Newtown school killings
Principal's daughter: She'll be with them
Source says Lanza cut dad out of his life
Sandy Hook: Obama's worst day

Nearly a month later, Wilford said her son still has trouble sleeping and is often scared by loud noises.

Newtown chooses faith, charity, hope

But on Thursday, he will join hundreds of other Newtown students returning to class for the first time since the tragedy.

"We think it's good he's going back," Wilford said. "If I leave my child anywhere, I'm leaving a piece of my heart, so it's difficult to leave him."

'I think I'll be OK,' Sandy Hook student says after first day

But Richie apparently isn't afraid and says he's looking forward to seeing his friends, she said.

They won't be attending Sandy Hook Elementary, which police say remains part of an ongoing investigation into Adam Lanza, the gunman who also killed his mother before opening fire at the school.

Instead, Richie and his classmates are expected to travel to Chalk Hill Middle School in the nearby town of Monroe, where a green-and-white banner greeting the children hangs on a fence.

Survivor's attorney withdraws lawsuit

I think right now it has to be the safest school in America.
Monroe Police Lt. Keith White

Newtown Public Schools Superintendent Janet Robinson said that part of the building had been transformed to resemble an elementary school.

"(We want) to have as much (of) a normal routine as possible," she said. "(Thursday) is a regular schedule, and we will do the kinds of things that we know are good for kids."

The school has also been outfitted with rugs and furniture similar to those at Sandy Hook to help ease the transition for students. Even the school's pet turtle was relocated, Robinson said.

Security measures have also been increased, with a new system incorporating more cameras and locks, according to Jim Agostine, superintendent of Monroe Public Schools.

"I think right now it has to be the safest school in America," Monroe Police Lt. Keith White said.

Read more: FBI background checks soar

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 2030 GMT (0430 HKT)
Though Congress hasn't passed any gun reform laws in the two years since the Sandy Hook massacre, there's one senator who's made it his mission to push for changes.
November 23, 2014 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
Adam Lanza was an isolated young man with deteriorating mental health and a fascination for mass violence, according to a report released by a Connecticut state agency.
December 14, 2013 -- Updated 1558 GMT (2358 HKT)
Horror struck Newtown, Connecticut, in such a disturbing way that the nation still struggles with its impact a year later.
June 8, 2013 -- Updated 1120 GMT (1920 HKT)
Fifty miles from Newtown, workers hate that their products fall into the wrong hand. But the Second Amendment is sacred here.
Rabbi Shaul Praver says people in Newtown have grown weary of syrupy condolences.
June 8, 2013 -- Updated 1118 GMT (1918 HKT)
Congress may have defeated tighter gun laws, but states have been passing bills of their own in the wake of Newtown
Details continue to emerge about what precisely happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Here is a timeline of events that compiles the latest reporting.
An interactive tribute to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
May 25, 2013 -- Updated 0512 GMT (1312 HKT)
The public school district will receive $1.3 million to help the community recover from the , U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced.
March 29, 2013 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
Police released new documents related to the shootings last year at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, but a motive for the attack by the troubled young man remained elusive.
January 15, 2013 -- Updated 1626 GMT (0026 HKT)
His parents remember Dylan Hockley as such a happy child.
December 19, 2012 -- Updated 1517 GMT (2317 HKT)
Amid the chaos that first-responder Ray Corbo witnessed on Friday, there is one image that he will never forget.
December 20, 2012 -- Updated 1502 GMT (2302 HKT)
In many ways, Josh Stepakoff's childhood came to an abrupt halt at 10:49 a.m. on August 10, 1999.
December 20, 2012 -- Updated 1440 GMT (2240 HKT)
When Lauren Rousseau's boyfriend wakes up, he can smell her perfume.
December 18, 2012 -- Updated 1530 GMT (2330 HKT)
Placing yourself in the path of flying bullets to protect innocents. It's a job description fitting for a soldier or police officer, but not for a school teacher.
ADVERTISEMENT