It's been exactly one month since the colorful walls of Sandy Hook Elementary School bore witness to Adam Lanza's bloody massacre that killed 20 first-graders and six staffers on Dec. 14.
The pain is still constant. The memories still vivid. And the reminders, including the actual school building, are still present.
But that may be changing soon, as the community of 27,000 starts the discussion on what should happen to the Sandy Hook Elementary School building.
Over 400 students who once attended the school have been moved to a neighboring school building, and the scene of the crime remains blocked off by tape and police (as it is still serving as a crime scene for police to investigate).
But what happens after the investigation is over?
On Sunday, just a day before the one-month anniversary of the shooting, officials and residents gathered in an auditorium at Newtown High School to discuss if the school should be turned into a permanent memorial, be torn down, or be renovated for students.
The town, still reeling from the massacre, hashed out their opinions passionately, but orderly.
Stephanie Carson, who has a son who was at the school on Dec. 14, the day of the shooting, said it should be knocked down.
“I cannot ask my son or any of the people at the school to ever walk back into that building, and he has asked to never go back,” she said. “I know that there are children who were there who have said they would like to go back to Sandy Hook. However, the reality is we have to be so careful. Even walking down the halls, the children become so scared at any unusual sound. I don’t see how it would be possible.”
Another parent urged community officials to keep the school open.
Audra Barth, the mother of a third grader and a first grader at Sandy Hook, was among the parents who said closing the school would further rob children who had already lost so much.
“My children have had everything taken away from them,” she said. Referring to the numerous gifts, including candy, that had been donated since the shooting, she added, “Chocolate is great, but they need their school.”
But even in the divide on what should happen to the building, the parents of Newtown agreed on one thing; the students, wherever they are, should be kept together and not split into separate schools.
Sandy Hook wouldn't be the first time residents of a town would have to decide what happened to the crime scene. Newtown will surely look to other school shootings to get guidance on how to proceed.
According to the New York Times:
After two students killed 12 other students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Colorado in April 1999, that community ultimately decided to keep that school open. Some $2.6 million, much of it donated, was spent on renovations that included turning the library, where the gunmen ended their rampage, into a glass atrium with a canopy of evergreens and aspens painted on the ceilings.
At Virginia Tech, where 32 people were gunned down by a student in April 2007, the building where 30 of the killings occurred was turned into the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention.
Whatever happens to the building, we are still praying for Newtown and we send our love on such an emotional and unforgettable day.
SOURCE: NY Times