New Sandy Hook school reopens nearly 4 years after massacre - WFSB 3 Connecticut

New Sandy Hook school reopens nearly 4 years after massacre

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Members of the media were invited for a look inside the new Sandy Hook school. (WFSB) Members of the media were invited for a look inside the new Sandy Hook school. (WFSB)
NEWTOWN, CT (WFSB/AP) -

Preparations were underway Friday to open the new Sandy Hook Elementary school this September.

The school hosted a media day Friday and showed the progress that has been made in its development.

First Selectman Pat Llodra said the school will create good memories for children, despite the past.

Our role now, as adults and leaders, is to bring this new, beautiful place into its rightful status as the SHS of the present and the future. Despite its birth from a horrible tragedy, SHS will be a place full of laughter, love, and learning,” said Llodra.

The original Sandy Hook Elementary School was torn down after 20 first-graders and six teachers were shot and killed.

Surviving students have been attending school in the neighboring town of Monroe since 2012.

Although the school has received national attention, Superintendent Joseph Erardi said he wants the school’s opening to be peaceful.

“Sandy Hook will have a quiet opening in September. We’re asking everyone to give us the space we need to focus entirely on teaching and learning when we return for our first day of school,” said Erardi.

Principal Dr. Kathy Gombos said the kids are their top priority.

"You know when you get here, and there are kids and you're teaching, that's your focus," said Gombos.

The building was designed by New Haven-based Svigals + Partners Architects. Construction on the building began in the fall of 2014.

It is on the site of the old school, but has an entirely different footprint.

The school is forest-themed and includes reading-nooks created to resemble treehouses. Officials say it was designed to be attractive, environmentally friendly, conducive to learning and, above all, safe.

The school was built with a gated driveway, state-of-the art video monitoring and bulletproof windows and doors. Two police officers will be stationed there.

There is no memorial to the victims on school grounds, but say the victims are always on their mind.

"It's always emotional. You always want to remember those who just lost their lives, and I think it's a huge tribute to what Sandy Hook was and what we intend to be in the future, and that's just a warm, smart environment," said Gombos.

Jay Brotman, who is managing partner of Svigals + Partners, said the building has become an example of how communities can come together in a positive way.

“As architects, we aspire to opportunities like this: to be involved in the design of a building like the Sandy Hook School, a meaningful and symbolic building that truly serves a community on so many levels, today and for generations to come,” said Brotman. 

Julia McFadden, an architect who also helped design the school, said there is a duck theme throughout the school.

"They told us about this family of ducks that used to reside in the old courtyard of the former school and they were really concerned that we could attract the ducks back hopefully to the new school," said McFadden.

The school was constructed by the Consigli Construction Company.

The company has worked on other well-known projects like the renovations of the Boston Public Library and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Classes will begin on August 29. Nearly 400 students will be attending the school. Around 35 of them were in the school during the tragedy.

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