NEWTOWN-SCHOOL-FUTURE-HNS

SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY'S FUTURE UNCERTAIN@

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 25, 2012 at 7:18 pm •  Published: December 25, 2012
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SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY'S FUTURE UNCERTAIN@<

(For use by New York Times News Service clients.)@<

By KRISTEN V. BROWN and ANA LEY@

c.2012 Hearst Newspapers@

NEWTOWN, Conn. — The days when school bells summoned students to Sandy Hook Elementary School may be over.

In the wake of the Dec. 14 massacre that left 20 students and six teachers dead, dozens of residents indicated in interviews with the Danbury News-Times that the school should remain closed for good.

The memories, residents say, are too ghastly for classes ever to be held at Sandy Hook again.

"It should be demolished," said John Vouros, a member of the Newtown Board of Education.

Though the board has not yet officially discussed what might become of Sandy Hook Elementary, Vouros said a new school should be built elsewhere.

Following such tragedies, spaces rarely remain the same.

After two students sprayed Columbine High School in Colorado with bullets in 1999, leaving 13 dead, the second-floor library became an atrium, blood-soaked carpeting replaced with new tile.

At Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, where a student killed 30 teachers and students in 2007, the violence-scarred classrooms of Norris Hall are now home to the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention.

In Newtown, though, many are calling for the school to be razed, not reimagined.

Christine Wilford's 7-year-old son, Richie, was a survivor of the Dec. 14 shooting. Though her son wishes to return to the school, she said the family leans toward building a new one.

Her son, she said, was led out the school's back door, escaping most of the violent scenes. Other children were not so fortunate.

 "There are so many bad memories for the children," she said. "There is so much terror and fear."

The road leading to Sandy Hook Elementary School is still impassible. Police instruct pedestrians to turn around, and neon-orange cones divert traffic.

The school remains an eerie crime scene, boarded up and cordoned off by razor wire and chain-link fencing, inaccessible to anyone without official business.

"Sandy Hook is sacred ground now," Wilford said.

Dale Neves, who was in the same Newtown High School class as 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza, said a memorial should replace the school.

"Because of everything that went down there, it wouldn't be right to go back to that school," said Neves, 21. "I think a memorial would be fit."

The tragedy should be acknowledged, said William Rodgers, one of three members of the Newtown Board of Selectmen.

"I personally think that it's inappropriate to return to that building. My preference is to see it razed," Rodgers said, adding that the selectmen have not taken any vote on the school's future yet. "It's adjacent to a park, so maybe they could be connected."

But that's not enough, he said.

"There has to be some type of memorial there, in addition to whatever other memorials are made around town," he said. "There needs to be some sort of tribute at the spot."

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