Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Sandy Hook School Reopens Nearly 4 Years after Massacre

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Sandy Hook School Reopens Nearly 4 Years after Massacre

Article excerpt

NEWTOWN, Conn. * The new Sandy Hook Elementary School, built to replace the one demolished after a massacre that took the lives of 20 children and six educators, features three courtyards, study spaces designed to look like treehouses and a moat-like raingarden.

Still, many would give anything to have the old building back.

"But, let me state unequivocally that we would trade in a minute this beautiful new school for the more familiar and ancient Sandy Hook school, built in the '50s, if we could just change the past," said Pat Llodra, the town's first selectman.

The new 86,000-square-foot school opened Friday for the first time to the media and the general public, containing no obvious memorials to the 26 people slain in December 2012, but officials said it was created with them in mind.

The $50 million replacement was built on the same property but not in the old footprint. All that remains are two large concrete slabs containing dinosaur footprints that also sat outside the old building.

Local officials hope allowing people to take a look this week will make for a "quiet, respectful, and appropriate opening" on Aug. 29, Superintendent Joseph Erardi said.

Melisa Horan found touring the new school with her now sixth- grade son cathartic. He has aged out of the prekindergarten-to- fourth-grade school but wanted to see the replacement for his old school.

"Once you got down to where the driveway opened up, there was a whole different feeling, at least for me," Horan said. "It was done so respectfully and so tastefully. And the kids we toured with who are going there were just so excited to be there."

Architects and engineers held seven workshops to gather public input, including "Kids Build" sessions with the students, whose drawings can be seen on the flags that line the driveway.

"These people had their hearts ripped out. It was important to listen to them," said Julia McFadden, an architect with Svigals + Partners and the project manager.

The school was designed, officials said, to be attractive, environmentally friendly, conducive to learning and, above all, safe.

Visitors will need to pass through a driveway gate with a video intercom, across a moat-like raingarden and past two police officers and a video monitoring system to get inside. …

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