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At New Sandy Hook School, Themes of Nature and Peace


This fall, students will return to Sandy Hook Elementary School for the first time since the 2012 shooting that killed 20 students and 6 educators. The public just got their first look at the new school building, on the same site as the old one.

When the architecture firm Svigals and Partners designed the building, they spent months talking people in the community about what they wanted. This wasn’t a normal building project.

“They were very passionately protective,” says project manager Julia McFadden. “They really communicated heartfelt feelings about wanting the whole community to come together and recreate the school in a way the town could reconnect to it. Cause they really had their heart ripped out.”

The new school building is full of peaceful nature themes: wood paneling, gardens, and alcoves that look like treehouses.

“Treehouses evoke childhood,” McFadden says, “And for children to have that sense of their space that they own.”

There’s no big memorial anywhere. Jay Brotman of Svigals and Partnerssays that’s not what the school community wanted.

“We had to look at everything we did with the lens of the parents and children that were involved, the teachers, the faculty,” he says. “That is different than other communities. But in the end, every community wants the same thing. Really, what they want is a fabulous place for the children.”

There will eventually be a permanent memorial in Newtown. The town’s still figuring out what that will look like, but Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra says it will not be on the site of the new school.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.