It would not be unusual for Board of Finance school budget deliberations to extend to three hours or more. But despite the intention to do so on March 6, finance officials never cracked open the school budget book.
Instead, they heard public comment and spent the rest of their special meeting originally scheduled to take up the district budget proposal, trying to get a better understanding about the scope and cost of future school security measures.
As a psychiatrist, my off-duty conversations with people can run the gamut from the mundane to the very personal. I was talking to a friend in town who described how he feels cut off from people he knows since the horrific tragedy in December.
“It hurts that some people I know really well, even family, haven’t reached out to me. Do they just not care?” We talked about how they may have no idea what to say that would be helpful and not sound empty. Not knowing what to say, they say nothing.
Following 12/14, “none of us slept,” admitted resident Monte Frank. During those quiet nighttime hours, he said, “It came to me.” He had the idea to organize a cyclist’s ride from Newtown to Washington, D.C., to promote “the immediate need” for gun safety legislation.
Students at The Kent School were, like so many others across the state and country, upset when they heard the news of the shootings at Sandy Hook School on 12/14. And like others, many students of the independent coeducational boarding school in northwestern Connecticut began reaching out to the residents of Newtown with words of condolence.
The Board of Selectmen reviewed five options to provide increased security and safety at Newtown’s elementary schools, as well as providing options for local private schools that might want to consider being part of an overall community program tied to the local police department. Officials also met Anne Alzapiedi, a senior human resource leader at GE Capital and former municipal official, who will join two other GE Capital colleagues providing logistical and advisory support to the community in the wake of the 12/14 tragedy.
The Newtown High School cafeteria was turned into a confectionary gathering spot on Valentine’s Day.
Vikki Grodner, the founder of Life Is Precious, traveled with her husband Ken from Alabama to help deliver thousands of cupcakes to Newtown’s first responders, the immediate families of those who lost loved ones on 12/14, and the children of Sandy Hook School. The offering was Mrs Grodner’s way of “giving the community communal hugs,” she said. She called it The Newtown Community Cupcake Heartwarmer.
Selling yellow and blue wristbands with the words “We are one Newtown, 12-14-12” he created helped Newtown Middle School seventh grader Ryan Patrick raise $24,000 to give to the Healing Hearts Center for Grieving Children & Families, a program of Regional Hospice and Home Care of Western Connecticut.
The town was so flooded with gifts of goodwill from across the nation and world following the December 14 Sandy Hook School shootings tragedy, that it accumulated a massive inventory of gifts, far exceeding the needs of the people most directly affected by the incident.
To distribute those thousands upon thousands of gifts, many of them toys, the town conducted a Community Giveaway event during a six-hour period on Sunday, February 24, at the Reed Intermediate School. Several thousand people attended.
On Sunday afternoon, February 24, some of the thousands of town residents who attended a community giveaway event at the Reed Intermediate School waited patiently to enter the school gymnasium. Through the event, residents received gifts of goodwill that were sent to the town following the December 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.