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Missed Milestones



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The Newtown Bee prefers not to dwell on the topic of the 12/14 Tragedy except when it comes up in the context of other stories it’s reporting on, such as the 2022 efforts of Newtown Action Alliance to get the Legislative Council to pass gun control regulations concerning carried weapons on public property.

It’s an old but still sensitive wound, and perhaps one that can never truly be healed as 20 young students and six female faculty members were taken from a world that would have been a better place with every one of them still in it.

It’s impossible to be a newspaper covering the Town of Newtown and its village of Sandy Hook, however, and ignore the fact that this would have been the year the youngest victims of that Friday morning would have been part of Newtown High School’s graduating class this month.

They may not all have still been in town. Families move, we recognize that. Some of those children — who would have been young adults now — might have attended school elsewhere. Maybe one of them might have even stayed back a year along the way. Despite all those maybes, the fact remains this would have been the graduating year for Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, Ana Marquez-Greene, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler, and Allison Wyatt.

The traditional Newtown Bee Graduation section appears in this week’s print edition. Those pages feature the young men and women who will walk across the stage next week, hands outstretched to receive the diplomas they have all worked toward and earned. Their parents will smile and clap proudly, and maybe even embarrass their children with their enthusiasm.

This week’s paper should have featured 20 more photos. The children named above should have continued with life, education, family vacations, sports, theater, and everything else their classmates have done. There should have been 11½ more years of memories of them in the minds of their families, their classmates, their friends, and those who would have been touched in one way or another by their lives. Maybe one of them might have been the Salutatorian or Valedictorian.

High school graduation is only one of the missed milestones by those young lives. Eighth grade graduation, birthdays, quinceaneras, bar and bat mitzvahs, driver’s licenses, first kisses, and so much more are among things that most or at least a few of them would have experienced.

As we celebrate and think about Newtown High School’s Class of 2024 on their graduation day, this year set early on June 12, we should each take a moment to remember these lives cut too short and hold them in our minds and hearts for a few moments that day. They will likely be mentioned and remembered during the graduation ceremony, and those in attendance will have that opportunity to pay respects to those 26 lives cut too short.

We have not forgotten 12/14, nor any of those who died that day. We will be thinking of them next Wednesday afternoon, just as we have continued to think of them these past 11½ years.

We celebrate the Newtown High School Class of 2024. To those of you who will be sitting in Blue & Gold Stadium Wednesday afternoon and those who are in our hearts, congratulations to each of you.

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