Published On: Thu, Jan 3rd, 2013

Sandy Hook Elementary students return to school, new building, new principal, ‘happy to see friends’

As Sandy Hook Elementary students arrived to school for the first time on since gunman Adam Lanza stormed their school, police in Monroe, Connecticut said students seemed excited to start classes and to see their new school building, which is located in a different town.

Welcome Sandy Hook Elementary signAn unused middle school in Monroe welcomed the students on Thursday as the old school is still considered a crime scene.

“A lot of them were happy to see their friends they hadn’t seen in a while,” Monroe police Lt. Keith White told reporters Thursday afternoon. “They were excited about the new school.”

White said attendance on the first day back was “very good” and most kids arrived by bus. “Most of the buses were full and a lot of the classes were full,” he said.

Police and school officials addressed questions from concerned parents at a packed meeting in the school’s lecture hall, White said. He said he believed parents were satisfied with the answers they got, but White would not comment on the specific concerns raised.

Parents were also allowed to stay with their children for a “short time” if they wished, he said.

Teachers tried to make the new surroundings as familiar as possible. Their old desks were brought in, along with backpacks, coats, and lunch boxes that were left behind as they fled on December 14.

Donna Page, who retired from the role of principal at Sandy Hook in 2010, agreed to come back after her successor, Dawn Hochsprung, was killed in the December massacre.

White said police are trying to strike a balance for the children and likely will reevaluate their staffing on a “week-to-week basis” addressing the security measures on campus.

“We don’t want them to think this is a police state,” he said.  “We want them to know that this is a school and a school first. And that it is a place they are to come to learn, enjoy their friends and grow up.”

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at theglobaldispatch@gmail ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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