| NEWTOWN, Conn.
NEWTOWN, Conn. Jan 2 Many of the children who
escaped last month's massacre at a Newtown, Connecticut,
elementary school on Wednesday afternoon will get their first
glimpse of their new school, which has been decked out as a
"Winter Wonderland" with the help of thousands of kids from
around the country.
More than 400 Sandy Hook Elementary School students in
kindergarten through grade 4 will return to classes on Thursday
for the first time since the Dec. 14 attack, but on Wednesday
afternoon the children and their parents have been invited for a
walk through at their new school in neighboring Monroe.
The attack by 20-year-old Adam Lanza left 20 Sandy Hook
first graders and six staff members dead in the second-deadliest
school shooting in U.S. history.
Lanza, described by family friends has having Asperger's
syndrome, a form of autism, shot and killed his mother, Nancy
Lanza, before heading to the school about five miles from their
home, police said. He then took his own life as police were
arriving at the school, which had an enrollment of 456 students
ages 5 to 10 before the attack.
Police have offered no firm motive for the attack, and state
police investigators have said it could be months before they
are in a position to offer a report on it.
The assault stunned the nation, prompting President Barack
Obama to call it the worst day of his presidency and reigniting
an extensive debate on gun control. In response the attack, the
National Rifle Association called for armed guards to patrol
every public school in the country.
Armed police will be on hand on Thursday when the pupils
arrive at the former Chalk Hill Middle School in Monroe, about 8
miles south of the Sandy Hook school. Sandy Hook remains an
active crime scene and is closed to anyone but police.
The school has also been equipped with a new security
system, which will also be installed in Newtown's seven other
schools shortly, Newtown School Superintendent Janet Robinson
said in an email to district parents.
"As we enter 2013, we begin the year knowing that we are
forever changed," Robinson wrote. "We have an altered sense of
security and will continue to grieve for the senseless loss of
such precious little ones and their teachers, but we will join
together in a new appreciation of what we have and will make
something positive emerge from this."
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.
So many decorations have been donated that organizers have
asked for no more to be submitted.
"We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity
from around not just the country but the world," the Connecticut
PTSA said in a message to prospective decoration contributors.
"At this time, we have enough beautiful snowflakes to blanket
the community of Newtown. Therefore, with regret we must close
the snowflake project to further donations."
At Chalk Hill, the students will have a new principal, Donna
Page, because Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung was among the
six adults killed in Lanza's attack. Page is a former
administrator in Newtown schools who has agreed to serve as
interim principal while a permanent successor is sought.
(Writing by Dan Burns; Editing by M.D. Golan)