independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Small town in trauma as first victims laid to rest

Noah Pozner was one of 20 children killed at a Connecticut elementary school

THE small Connecticut town shattered by an act President Barack Obama called "unconscionable evil" will today hold the first two of 20 funerals for schoolchildren massacred in their classrooms last week.

Meanwhile, schools across the country will reopen their doors to confused and scared children full of questions about why the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting happened - and whether they are safe from the very same danger.

The families of Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto will be the first to lay their children laid to rest this afternoon.

Noah, 6 years old just last month, was the youngest victim. Reports describe him as "inquisitive" and as particularly mature for his age. The family's rabbi has said he encouraged Noah's mother to focus on her other four children amid the grief.

Jack, also 6, was a wrestler who loved sports. The New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz played Sunday's football game with the boy's name written all over his cleats and gloves.

All the dead children were 6 and 7 years old. The school principal of Sandy Hook Elementary, the school psychologist and four teachers were also gunned down.

The victims were remembered Sunday night at a memorial of just over an hour.

While the two boys are laid to rest and the other families prepare their own memorials, schools across the country will attempt to return to business as usual, though there will be signs everywhere of how unusual the situation has become.

Some schools will put on extra security guards. Others will begin their day with a moment of silence. On Twitter, young people nationwide have urged their classmates to wear green and white, the colors of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

"I'm struggling with if I should bring it up at all. And if I do, what am I going to say about it? I'm just praying about it, because I don't know," said Molli Falgout, a first-grade teacher in Kernersville, North Carolina.

But in Newtown, schools will not reopen today. The district has said teachers need time to prepare for the students' return.

Instead, the town's youth sports groups have set up a field day of sorts to keep kids occupied, with athletics, board games and arts and crafts. Schools superintendent Janet Robinson described it as an effort "to help provide some small level of comfort and support to the children in our community."

The community will also have to make a decision about what to do with the bullet-ridden Sandy Hook Elementary, whose students will for now attend classes in an empty school the next town over.

"I think we have to go back into that building at some point. That's how you heal. It doesn't have to be immediately but I sure wouldn't want to give up on it," said local resident Tim Northrop.

Meanwhile, a more detailed picture of 20-year-old Adam Lanza's stunning attack emerged on Sunday.

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