Northern Suburbs News

Back to class in Newtown marred by threat

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

With security stepped up and families still on edge in Newtown, schools opened for the first time since last week's massacre, bringing a return of familiar routines - at least, for some - to a grief-stricken town as it buries 20 of its children.

But the day was not without its share of threats, one of which prompted a school to cancel classes for the day.

The Head O'Meadow School on Boggs Hill Road closed its doors for precautionary reasons after authorities became aware of an unknown threat. Police are working on a release, but have not released more information yet.

Students will return to school tomorrow on a delayed opening schedule.

School officials sent the following letter to parents:

"As was predicted by the police that there would be some threats, the police were prepared and have us in lockdown which is our normal procedure. Due to the situation, students will not come to school today. Please make arrangements to keep them home. All-Star (bus company) has been notified and will return any students already picked up."

Classes resumed Tuesday for Newtown schools except those at Sandy Hook. Buses ferrying students to schools were festooned with large green and white ribbons on the front grills, the colors of Sandy Hook. At Newtown High School, students in sweatshirts and jackets, many wearing headphones, betrayed mixed emotions. Some waved at or snapped photos of the assembled media horde, and others appeared visibly shaken.

"There's going to be no joy in school," said 17-year-old senior P.J. Hickey. "It really doesn't feel like Christmas anymore."

At the high school, students didn't expect to get much work done Tuesday but rather anticipated most of the day would be spent talking about the shooting.

"We're going to be able to comfort each other and try and help each other get through this because that's the only way we're going to do it. Nobody can do this alone," Hickey said.

Sophomore Tate Schwab echoed that.

"It's definitely better than just sitting at home watching the news," he said.

"It really hasn't sunk in yet," he said. "It feels to me like it hasn't happened. It's really weird."

As for concerns about safety, Hickey was defiant.

"This is where I feel the most at home. I feel safer here than anywhere else in the world."

Some parents were likely to keep their children at home anyway. Local police and school officials have been discussing how and where to increase security, and state police said they would be on alert for threats and hoaxes.

Dan Capodicci, whose 10-year-old daughter attends the school at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, said he thinks it's time for her to get back to classes.

"It's the right thing to do. You have to send your kids back. But at the same time I'm worried," he said. "We need to get back to normal."

The district has made plans to send surviving Sandy Hook students to Chalk Hill, a former middle school in the neighboring town of Monroe. Sandy Hook desks that will fit the small students are being taken there, empty since town schools consolidated last year, and tradesmen are donating their services to get the school ready within a matter of days.

With Sandy Hook Elementary still designated a crime scene, state police Lt. Paul Vance said it could be months before police turn the school back over to the district.

CLICK HERE TO SEE PHOTOS FROM THE NEWTOWN SCHOOL SHOOTING SCENE

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connecticut, school lockdown, shooting, newtown, newtown school shooting, mass shooting, northern suburbs news
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