Students in Newtown, Connecticut will return to classes at Sandy Hook elementary next week. It’s the first time students have attended the school since a mass shooting four years ago. The school was demolished and has now been rebuilt.
The entirely-new building has improved security: a gated entrance, bulletproof windows, and lots of cameras. Architect and project manager Julia McFadden says the hope was to incorporate those needs into a soothing learning environment.
“So what you'll see in the design of the school is a real sense of opening up to nature and really showcasing nature,” said McFadden.
Large, glass curtain walls open into a big courtyard. There are bird murals, beams that look like branches -- and even a built-in treehouse. Near one entrance is a large mural, made out of green glass that holds a two word message: 'Be Kind.' First Selectman Pat Llodra said she hopes that will show Sandy Hook is a place that inspires good.
“Our school is built upon the message of its principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed on Dec. 14, to be nice to each other -- that is all that really matters,” said Llodra.
Sandy Hook families have already toured the building. Superintendent Joesph Erardi said about 35 students who were in kindergarten when shooting broke out -- will be returning. They're now in fourth grade ... and had been going to class in neighboring Monroe, CT. The new Sandy Hook School cost $50 million -- paid entirely by state taxpayers. Classes begin on August 29.
This report comes from the New England News Collaborative. Eight public media companies coming together to tell the story of a changing region, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.