Tears but few reminders as new school opens on site of Sandy Hook massacre

A new elementary school is to open on the Sandy Hook site where 20 children and six teachers were shot dead in 2012. it replaces the one demolished after a massacre which shocked America and the world and intensified the row over gun control. Prospective parents and the media were given a chance to look around the $50 million replacement, which is on the same spot but is built to a different footprint. It contains no memorial to those who died when 20-year-old Adam Lanza burst into the school premises in Newtown, Connecticut, and gunned down the six- and seven-year-olds on 14 December, 2012.

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

Pat Llodra, Sandy Hook’s first selectman

Designers say its three courtyards, study spaces designed to look like treehouses and a moat-like raingarden have been chosen with those who lost their lives in mind. However, all that remains of the previous school are two large concrete slabs containing dinosaur footprints that sat outside the old building. Visitors will need to pass through a driveway gate with a video intercom and past two police officers and a video monitoring system to get inside. Windows and doors are bulletproof. About 70 of the new school’s 390 students were at the old school when the shooting occurred and about two-thirds of the staff members from the original Sandy Hook are still with the school.

There have been some tears, but I think after they spend about an hour or so here, they feel like it’s going to be an unbelievable learning space for kids

Principal Kathy Gombos, whose predecessor Dawn Hochsprung was among those killed