A mural inside Newtown High School that paid tribute to victims of the Sandy Hook shooting rampage was created as a form of art therapy. But within two years, the administration became worried that despite its intentions, the painting of a dreamcatcher was upsetting some students. To address those concerns, painter Lindsay Fuori at the start of this school year colored over the words "In loving memory" and "12-14-12," a reference to the date of the massacre of 20 first-graders and six educators at the elementary school. Then in October, the Newtown superintendent had her 10-foot-by-15-foot mural covered with plasterboard. The decision led to an online student petition rallying support for uncovering the painting, sparking debate about how to deal with the tragedy, and revealing the challenges that face administrators.
Superintendent Joseph Erardi Jr. says students and families described struggles related to the mural. In a note to families, he wrote that he knew covering it up would be controversial, but he had to act. "If there is anything I can do to support families who continue to recover and were most effected by 12/14, that has been my consistent practice," he tells the Newtown Bee. Fuori says the blank, white wall that now greets students at the top of a stairwell might cause more problems than the painting. "A lot of students feel like they're being told to forget, and that's not a healthy feeling, either," she says. The mural depicts 26 green beads, footprints, and clouds along with the dreamcatcher, a theme she thought fitting because intrusive dreams and memories are common effects of post-traumatic stress.