NEWTOWN — Sandy Hook Elementary School will reopen for a new school year on August 29, nearly four years after 20 first-graders and six educators were killed.
On Friday, media outlets and residents got a first look at the $50 million school that was built to replace the original building, where 26 people were shot and killed in December 2012. The new school is in the same location as the old one.
Senator Chris Murphy was touched by the new building, tweeting, "This town deserves this palace."
Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra said during a press conference in the new building that she expects students to be upset and anxious in the new school, but also excited.
“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.”
The school looks completely different. Gone is the brick facade, replaced with wood paneling and a unique rain garden. Inside, the forest theme is complete with classroom wings created to resemble tree houses. Officials say it was designed to be attractive, environmentally friendly, conducive to learning and, above all, safe.
It will include a gated driveway, state-of-the art video monitoring and bulletproof windows and doors. It will have two police officers stationed there.
Superintendent Joseph Erardi says the district hopes that allowing everyone a look at the school this week will give students a "quiet, respectful, and appropriate opening as teachers and students return to the new school year" on August 29.
“Sandy Hook will have a quiet opening in September,” said Dr. Erardi. “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.”
“From the very first day, we were aware of just how important it was to build the best possible building for the students and the Newtown community. Its powerful purpose was never lost on us,” said Matthew Consigli, president of Consigli Construction Co., Inc. “This has truly been an honor for us to be a partner in this special project.”
“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 Jay Brotman, Managing Partner at Svigals + Partners Architects. “A building that has become a national and even global emblem of what communities can achieve when working together for a common cause.”
First Selectman Llodra added that while the new school is exciting, everyone "would trade in a minute this beautiful new school for the more familiar and aged sandy hook school, built in the 50s, if we could just change the past."