SEVERANCE — A seventh-grade Windsor girl took it upon herself to offer some comfort to the students who attend the new Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Following the mass shooting that killed 20 first-graders, and six staff members in Newtown, Conn., the Sandy Hook students moved into a former middle school in Monroe, Conn., on Jan. 3. The Sandy Hook parent-volunteer committee asked people to make snowflakes to decorate the school to make it look like a winter wonderland.
Emily Reitz, a seventh-grader at Severance Middle School, received an email about the snowflake project from some family members who live in New York, just 30 minutes from Connecticut.
That’s when Emily, 12, decided to make it a service project for the Hawk Leadership Council, the school’s student council.
“I thought it was a really good idea to take part in it so they know that people all across the country still care,” Emily said. “I just thought it was a good way for Colorado to participate.” Emily said she doesn’t know how she’d be able to go back to school after such a tragedy.
“It was a very tragic occurrence. I know if I was in that situation, I’m not really sure how I would deal with it,” Emily said. “I think the community had to pull together a lot, and try to get by with what they still have. I know I’d be scared to go back to school. I think this would probably help me feel a little safer, and more comforting.”
Heidi Johnson, a seventh-grade reading and English teacher at SMS who also is a co-sponsor for the council, said she thinks about the students who survived the shooting.
“One of the things I think about is that the kids who survived are going to be affected for the rest of their lives, and this is going to be something that really sticks with them,” Johnson said. “They’re victims just us much as anybody else, which is, I think, the reason I got really excited when Emily had this idea because those kids are going to be struggling.”
SMS students on the council made hundreds of snowflakes at home during Christmas break, and the different sizes and shapes of snowflakes. Some included glitter and paint. They were mailed to the Sandy Hook students Thursday. Other students who made snowflakes were seventh-graders Brayden Petersen, Andrew Jelkin, Lori Winter and April Urich, and eighth-graders Brandon Lelievre and Cassie Laubach.
“I typed up a letter saying where we’re from, I talked a little about HLC and what we do,” Emily said.
Johnson said it was special for a 12-year-old student to coordinate the project.
“Emily is a really great leader, and so it’s not particularly surprising that Emily, of all people, would be the person to do it,” Johnson said. “This doesn’t affect our students in any concrete way, and I just thought that it was really great that we have students who are thinking about things like that and wanting to be a support even though it’s half-way across the country. I was really impressed.”
... I just thought that it was really great that we have students who are thinking about things like that and wanting to be a support even though it’s half-way across the country. I was really impressed.
Reading and English teacher at Severance Middle School