For the students, the previously abandoned Chalk Hill School in Connecticut looks just like the one they came from.
The desks are in the same place. Cubbies are too. And their old backpacks and belongings, the things they ran away from when Adam Lanza burst into Sandy Hook Elementary School and shot 26 people…those belongings are also the same, brought in to make them feel at home.
The walls are painted the same color and the pictures that they once drew alongside of friends that won’t return hang on those walls.
The school, which officials worked hard to make “cheerful,” was even turned into a “Winter Wonderland.”
Chalk Hill will also be decorated with thousands of paper snow flakes and other decorations made by other students from Newtown and around the country to help lift spirits of the 436 children scheduled to return to school.
The new Sandy Hook School operates almost exactly like the old one…except with tighter security.
According to the Huffington Post, returning students, teachers, and administrators were met by a large police presence. Several officers guarded the front of the new school and others checked the identification of parents dropping off their children.
A new security system has been installed into the school, which has also been placed in seven other Newtown schools since the tragedy.
But despite that detail, parents and teachers carried on with the day as if it was a normal day in the week. Everything went accordingly and there were counselors on hand to help students who were still grieving.
Reportedly the students are transitioning well, but the parents are still a little wary.
Sarah Caron made her son his favorite pancakes for breakfast and walked the second-grader to the top of the driveway for the school bus.
“I hugged him a lot longer than normal, until he said, ‘Mommy, please,'” she said. “And then he got on the bus, and he was OK.”
It was 7-year-old William’s first day of school since last month’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, and his mother tried to make the day as normal as possible. But it was harder than usual to say goodbye.
Stay strong Newtown. You’re in our thoughts.