Newtown Kids Head to 'Safest School in America'

Superintendent seeks 'normal' day

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 3, 2013 7:57 AM CST

(Newser) – It's the first day back at Sandy Hook Elementary for survivors of last month's shooting—and its new campus, guarded by law enforcement, is "the safest school in America," police tell the AP. Police are checking every car that enters campus, and there are unspecified "security devices" on site, NBC News reports. Still, Superintendent Janet Robinson is trying to make today as "normal" as possible, and says the students will follow their regular schedule. Much work was done on the new school, a former middle school in a neighboring town, to make the students feel at home.

  • Chalk Hill Middle School was renamed Sandy Hook Elementary School; bathroom floors were raised so its new, younger inhabitants can reach the toilets; and some of the familiar furniture from the old school was brought in, the Hartford Courant notes.
  • That includes their old desks and other items to make the classrooms look the same as the ones students are used to; backpacks, lunchboxes, coats, and other belongings left at the old school were also waiting for students at the new one.
  • Signs welcoming the students were posted along the road leading to the school, and the halls were decorated with snowflakes sent from all over the world and other "cheerful" decor.
  • Former Sandy Hook principal Donna Page, who retired in 2010, returned; her successor, Dawn Hochsprung, died in the shooting.
"The main thing it means ... is that they are getting back to their normal structures and routines," a psychiatrist who counseled survivors tells the Wall Street Journal. It's "the right time for them to essentially to step back on the path." Counselors are on hand at the new school for anyone who needs them.

Chalk Hill School is seen in Monroe, Conn., Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.
Chalk Hill School is seen in Monroe, Conn., Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
A sign for Chalk Hill School is seen in Monroe, Conn., Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.
A sign for Chalk Hill School is seen in Monroe, Conn., Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
A bus stops in front of 26 angels along the road on the first day of classes for Sandy Hook students since the Dec. 14 shooting, in Monroe, Conn., Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013.
A bus stops in front of 26 angels along the road on the first day of classes for Sandy Hook students since the Dec. 14 shooting, in Monroe, Conn., Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
A police road block is at the entrance to the new Sandy Hook Elementary School on the first day of classes in Monroe, Conn., Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013.
A police road block is at the entrance to the new Sandy Hook Elementary School on the first day of classes in Monroe, Conn., Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
A green and white ribbon, the school colors of Sandy Hook, is attached to a bus on the first day of school after the holiday break, in Newtown, Conn., Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.
A green and white ribbon, the school colors of Sandy Hook, is attached to a bus on the first day of school after the holiday break, in Newtown, Conn., Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
A man waves to a child on a bus on the first day of classes after the holiday break, in Newtown, Conn.,Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.
A man waves to a child on a bus on the first day of classes after the holiday break, in Newtown, Conn.,Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
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