Sandy Hook Elementary School – Should it Reopen? [POLL]
If, God forbid, a tragedy like the one that had befallen the community of Newtown, Ct. had ever happened here, would you want to send your kids back to that school?
I’m guessing most would say “no”.
However a few, me included, would opt for something akin to what officials at Columbine H.S. did after the shooting there…which is to build into the edifice an atrium and memorial to those who were killed there.
Grim reminder, yes…but perhaps an indication that life goes on, despite the horror that occurred there.
Talk has turned to the future of the Sandy Hook Elementary School as life slowly begins moving forward in town. Resident at a public meeting Sunday made passionate arguments about whether their kids should ever return to the site of the tragedy.
“I have two children who had everything taken from them,” said Audrey Bart, whose children attend the school but weren’t injured in the shooting. “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.”
But fellow Sandy Hook parent Stephanie Carson said she can’t imagine ever sending her son back to the building where 20 first-graders and six educators died.
“I know there are children who were there who want to go back,” Carson said. “But the reality is, I’ve been to the new school where the kids are now, and we have to be so careful just walking through the halls. They are still so scared.”
Although opinions were mixed at Sunday’s meeting in Newtown, most agreed that the Sandy Hook children and teachers should stay together. They’ve been moved to a school building about seven miles away in a neighboring town that has been renamed Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Last week, residents around town expressed similar opinions about the school’s future.
Susan Gibney, who lives in Sandy Hook, said she purposely doesn’t drive by the school because it’s too disturbing. She has three children in high school, but they didn’t attend Sandy Hook Elementary School. She believes the building should be torn down.
“I wouldn’t want to have to send my kids back to that school,” said Gibney, 50. “I just don’t see how the kids could get over what happened there.”
Laurie Badick, of Newtown, whose children attended the school several years ago, said she’s 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.”
Fran Bresson, a retired police officer who attended Sandy Hook Elementary School in the 1950s, wants the school to reopen, but he thinks the hallways and classrooms where staff and students were killed should be demolished.
“To tear it down completely would be like saying to evil, ‘You’ve won,’” the 63-year-old Southbury resident said.
Residents of towns where mass shootings occurred have grappled with the same dilemma. Some have renovated, some have demolished.
Columbine High School, where two student gunmen killed 12 schoolmates and a teacher, reopened several months afterward. Crews removed the library, where most of the victims died, and replaced it with an atrium.
On an island in Norway where 69 people — more than half of them teenagers attending summer camp — were killed by a gunman in 2011, extensive remodeling is planned. The main building, a cafeteria where 13 of the victims died, will be torn down.
Virginia Tech converted a classroom building where a student gunman killed 30 people in 2007 into a peace studies and violence prevention center.
An Amish community in Pennsylvania tore down the West Nickel Mines Amish School and built a new school a few hundred yards away after a gunman killed five girls there in 2006.
It is not an easy question with which to grapple. The horror of what happened there a month ago is still fresh in our minds…and no doubt, in the minds of those in that quaint community.
But perhaps mine is the minority opinion that the school should reopen…if not immediately, then certainly in the next school year…albeit with a renovation dedicated to the memory of the 20 children and 6 adults who were murdered there.
As cruel as it sounds, with all due respect to the memory of the victims and their families, life does go on!