By Deborah Feyerick (CNN)-Thursday marked a huge milestone for students and teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.
They returned to class for the first time since last month's shooting that killed 26 people at the school. Classes were relocated to another building in the nearby town of Monroe.
There was a lot of anxiety, a lot of concern. Nobody knew exactly quite what to expect today or how all the children would react. But school started on time and by mid-morning, a mom told me that in fact both the parents and the kids were doing great. She said it was an amazing day. She said that the teachers greeted the children and the parents with great big hugs. They took them to the classrooms.
The kindergartners had circle time.
They talked about what they did over their Christmas
vacation. While some of the fourth graders, they went on a scavenger
hunt. They explored the new building. It has two floors, not just one.
All of this was a way to establish some routine to get the children back
into sort of what an ordinary day was like before the tragedy happened.
"They took the bus, so, you know, we had the normal routine of
giving them breakfast and getting their backpacks packed. Then, we went
out and waited for the bus and then as soon as the bus came, they didn't
even look back. It was 'bye guys' and they just kind of waved and ran
onto the bus."
"There were some emotional moments in the beginning
of the day, but I think once everybody got there and saw the community
and the way the school was all set and everybody that was there for
support. I mean, you couldn't walk around the corner without somebody
asking 'did you need something', were you okay. There was coffee,
everything was set up for us so I think that made everybody feel at
"Did you by any chance see any of the siblings of the twenty?"
"No, I did not see any of them."
"Okay, and so Abby when you go back to class, it's a new school, but do you think the school is going to be okay?"
"Yeah? Are you nervous anymore?"
"You think you you'll want you mom to come tomorrow or you think you'll be okay?"
"I think I'll be okay."
And that seems to be really the prevailing sentiment that in fact everyone is going to be okay.
The people of Sandy Hook and Newtown don't want to be identified by the tragedy that happened here, but how they responded on how they healed as a community and there were lots of volunteers, lots of counselors, even therapy dogs all there to support the families and the children who were inside that school building.
The parents allowed to go to the classes, they were allowed to sit with the children and take part in the activities just to show the children that, you know, it's okay, that everything is going to be okay.
The parents then met with the principal, the superintendent and police officers. Security wasn't the issue, the greater issue - the greater concern - was counseling. How will authorities identify whether a child needs help or whether, in fact, a teacher may need help.
Those were some of the questions they were asking, but the dad, Andrew Paley, who I spoke to earlier today he told me, he said look, 'perception and reality are two different things', but the perception based on what he experienced with his two 9-year-old twins, he said it is good, it is really good. So, the healing certainly has begun and more importantly the routine that the children so desperately need to begin to heal and move on that also has started.
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