Remembering the Sandy Hook Victims …Retired Sandy Hook principal will reportedly return to post when school reopens
Looking back at those who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Charlotte «was going to go some places in this world,» her uncle told Newsday. «This little girl could light up the room for anyone.» In a statement, Charlotte’s family said their daughter loved Taekwondo and had wanted to be a veterinarian since she was two years old, and they recalled «the unique way she expressed her individuality, usually with the color pink.» After she had begged her mother for a new outfit she was supposed to receive as a holiday gift, her mother relented on Friday and allowed her to wear the outfit: a pink dress and boots, The Associated Press reported. Charlotte’s older brother Guy, who was also at Sandy Hook on Friday, survived the shooting.
Daniel Barden, 7
Daniel Barden was the youngest son of a devoted mother and father who took him to swim practice and other activities, friends and neighbors told The Washington Post. Neighbor Peter Bernson recalled often seeing the small, laughing, brown-haired boy atop his father’s shoulders, heading to the bus stop for school every morning, according to the Post. «Words really cannot express what a special boy Daniel was. Such a light,» his family said in a statement. «Daniel was fearless in his pursuit of happiness and life.» His father Mark, a musician, had been scheduled to play a show Friday night, the New Haven Register reported. The show was cancelled. Photo: Associated Press.
Rachel D’Avino, 29
Intern Rachel D’Avino was about to become a board-certified behavior analyst — and possibly a fiancée to her boyfriend Tony Cerritelli. The 29-year-old, a behavioral therapist with autistic children, had just finished the requirements for analyst certification, and Cerritelli planned to propose to her on Christmas Eve, the Lower Hudson Journal News reported. She loved baking, cooking, photography and karate, according to the Journal News, and was remembered as a devoted therapist. «I think she taught me more about how to be a good mother to a special needs child than anyone else ever had,» Lovetere Stone, the mother of a child with whom D’Avino had worked, told The Associated Press. «I’m heartbroken. I’m numb.» When D’Avino was killed Friday, trying to shield students, she had been working at Sandy Hook Elementary for just a little over a week, her aunt told FOX 13 in Tampa Bay, Fla. Photo: Associated Press.
Olivia Engel, 6
Olivia Engel was supposed to perform Friday night in the Christmas pageant at St. Rose of Lima Church. «She was supposed to be an angel in the play,» Msgr. Robert Weiss told congregants Saturday, the Daily Beast reported. «Now she’s an angel up in heaven.» Olivia was a «precocious and completely endearing» Daisy Girl Scout who was learning to say the rosary and who loved school, musical theater, drawing, tennis, soccer, dancing, swimming and the colors purple and pink, her parents said in a statement. Dan Merton, a longtime family friend, described Olivia to The Associated Press as «the teacher’s pet, the line leader» with «perfect table manners.» On Friday, she was excited to make a gingerbread house after school, he said. «Her only crime,» he said, «is being a wiggly, smiley 6-year-old.» Photo: Associated Press/Engel Family
Josephine Gay, 7
Josephine Gay, who turned seven just three days before she died, liked riding her bike and setting up lemonade stands. Her favorite color was purple, according to The Wall Street Journal. She was nicknamed «Boo» because she looked like the larger-than-life child in the film «Monsters Inc.,» according to Carole Laude Pechi’s Facebook post. Photo: Associated Press.
Dawn Hochsprung, 47
Sandy Hook Elementary principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung is being remembered as an energetic and dedicated educator. Hochsprung had been principal at Sandy Hook Elementary since July 2010 and had taken on that position with 12 years of administrative experience behind her, according to The Newtown Bee. She took pride in her work at Sandy Hook, regularly tweeting photos of school activities, and was «likeable» and «extremely charismatic,» a former colleague said, according to The Associated Press. When gunman Adam Lanza began firing at the school Friday, Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach ran toward the barrage of bullets and lunged at him in an effort to protect students. One witness said the last thing Hochsprung said was a shouted warning to lock the door, just as she confronted Lanza, the Newtown Bee reported. NBC Connecticut has more on Hochsprung. Photo: The Newtown Bee
Dylan Hockley, 6
Dylan Hockley lived with his family across Yogananda Street from the Lanza family’s house, according to The Washington Post. They had moved there almost two years ago from Britain, choosing Sandy Hook because of the schools, Dylan’s grandmother Theresa Moretti told the Boston Herald. Moretti said the 6-year-old loved garlic bread, video games and jumping on his family’s trampoline with his older brother Jake, who was also at Sandy Hook Elementary but survived, and in a statement Dylan’s parents said the 6-year-old was proudly learning to read. An aunt in Britain told the Daily Telegraph her late nephew was «a model pupil, an academic boy» who «just loved going to school,» and Moretti said he «had the most mischievous little grin. To know him was to love him.» «We will always be a family of four, as though Dylan is no longer physically with us, he is forever in our hearts and minds,» his parents said in their statement. Photo: Associated Press
Madeleine Hsu, 6
Karen Dryer, a neighbor of the Hsu family, told the Wall Street Journal that Madeleine «was a sweet, beautiful little girl,» adding that she was «very upbeat and kind» and favored bright dresses. Madeleine’s family declined to comment on Saturday.
Catherine Hubbard, 6
Catherine had nine cousins, a big brother, «a passion for animals and [a] constant smile,» her family wrote in a Newtown Bee obituary. In lieu of flowers her family requested donations be made to a local animal shelter. Her parents released a statement asking for privacy to grieve and thanking first responders for their efforts. «We are greatly saddened by the loss of our beautiful daughter, Catherine Violet, and our thoughts and prayers are with the other families who have been affected by this tragedy,» Jennifer and Matthew Hubbard said. «We ask that you continue to pray for us and the other families who have experienced loss in this tragedy.» Photo: Associated Press.
Chase Kowalski, 7
Cub Scout and first-grader Chase Kowalski loved playing baseball with his dad, neighbor Suzanne Baumann told The Wall Street Journal. «He did nothing but smile,» she said, calling him «an amazing child» and «the apple of his parents’ eye.» Another neighbor, Kevin Grimes, recalled to The Associated Press that the boy, who was always outside playing or riding his bicycle, had recently won his first mini-triathlon. And neighbor Keeley Baumann recalled an endearing conversation with the first-grader, who was missing his two front teeth. «I saw him two days ago, and I asked him if he wanted to see Santa, and he told me that he wanted his teeth back, and it was really sweet,» she told the Connecticut Post. In a statement, Chase’s family recalled him as «a fun-loving, energetic boy [who] had a true love of life.» Photo: Associated Press
Jesse Lewis, 6
Jesse Lewis was raised in Sandy Hook and was called «boisterous and imaginative» by friends and family, according to the Wall Street Journal. In an email to the Journal, Jesse’s family called him «an incredible light» who «lived life with vigor and passion,» and family friend Barbara McSperrin called him «a typical 6-year-old little boy, full of life.» Speaking to Danbury, Conn., newspaper The News-Times, neighbor called Jesse an intelligent child who was «older than his years» but still loved playing with the horses kept in a pasture and barn in his backyard. Photo: Associated Press
Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
Ana Marquez-Greene was «an incredibly loving and spunky kid» and «really vivacious and affectionate,» family friend Noah Baerman told the West Hartford News. The child and her family moved back to Connecticut just two months ago from Canada, choosing Newtown because of the quiet and easygoing nature of the community, her grandmother in Puerto Rico, Elba Marquez, told El Nuevo Dia (linked story in Spanish). «Ana strengthened us with her loving, generous joyful spirit,» her family said in a statement, remarking on her love of singing, dancing and reading the Bible. «She never walked anywhere — her mode of transportation was dance,» they said, NBC Connecticut reported. Ana’s 9-year-old brother, with whom she was very close, was also a student at the school but survived Friday’s shooting. Photo: El Nuevo Día
James Mattioli, 6
James, known as «J» to his family, was a «curious and wonderful» boy, recalled the owner of a local horse stables where he often rode. «He would ask about the saddles and the brushes. He wanted to know how to take care of the horses. He was a boy that wanted to know how everything worked,» Annette Sullivan told the Connecticut Post. In his obituary, his family said he loved baseball, basketball, swimming, arm wrestling, riding his bicycle, diving from the high dive, math, French toast, cuddling with his mother and «the concept of ‘Googleplex.'» The mayor of his mother’s hometown of Sherrill, N.Y., told the Utica Observer-Dispatch that «everybody will be there» for the family. Photo: Associated Press.
Grace McDonnell, 7
Grace was a «free spirit with dancing eyes,» as her grandmother Mary Ann McDonnell told the Boston Herald, and «a real little doll,» as a neighbor told the Washington Post. The girl’s parents, Chris and Lynn, and her older brother Jack issued a statement calling her «the love and light of our family. Words cannot adequately express our sense of loss.» Photo: Associated Press/McDonnell Family
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Special education teacher Anne Marie Murphy, 52, died shielding her students inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. Her father, High McGowan of Katonah, N.Y., told Newsday that first responders had found her body on top of her students’ and had called Murphy a «hero.» Her father called Murphy, a talented painter and mother of four, «witty» and «hardworking,» and her mother Alice MacGowan called her a «happy soul.» Alice MacGowan said her daughter had «died doing what she loved. She was serving children and serving God.» Read more. Photo: Associated Press.
Emilie Parker, 6
Emilie Parker «could just light up a room,» her father, Robbie Parker said during a news conference. As the big sister to two girls, aged 3 and 4, she loved to teach her sisters how to read and dance. «She was always willing to try new things,» her dad said — «other than food.» She also loved to draw and would carry markers and pencils with her and write cards for people when they were feeling frustrated or sad, Parker added. The family has set up a fund in their daughter’s memory to aid other families of Sandy Hook shooting victims. Photo: Parker family.
Jack Pinto, 6
Jack Pinto was a huge New York Giants fan and a big admirer of star receiver Victor Cruz. Jack’s family told the player they were thinking of burying their son in his jersey, according to a report on the NFL’s website. Cruz, who spoke with the family Saturday, said he would honor Jack by wearing his name on his cleats in Sunday’s game with the Falcons, according to the Washington Post. On Sunday morning, Cruz tweeted photos with the words «Jack Pinto, My Hero» written on one of his cleats and «RIP Jack Pinto» on the other. Photo: Pinto family.
Noah Pozner, 6
Noah Pozner was «an impish, larger than life little boy,» his family wrote in his obituary. «Everything he did conveyed action and energy through love. He was the light of our family, a little soul devoid of spite and meanness.» The first-grader had a twin sister, Arielle, and an 8-year-old sister Sophia, both of whom also attended Sandy Hook Elementary, but escaped the carnage, the Danbury News Times reported. His twin sister was his «best friend,» and «they were always playing together, they loved to do things together,» his uncle Alexis Haller told the paper. Photo: Associated Press
Caroline Previdi, 6
Caroline Previdi was known by the nickname «Silly Caroline» because of the way she made people laugh The Wall Street Journal reported. The first-grader also used to sit with a nervous kindergartener on the school bus each day «so he wasn’t scared,» the boy’s mother told the Journal. Photo: Associated Press.
Jessica Rekos, 6
Jessica Rekos «loved everything about horses,» her parents Krista and Rich said in a statement — «watching horse movies, reading horse books, drawing horses and writing stories about horses.» The oldest of three, Jessica was a «ball of fire» who loved orca whales, writing and being the big sister to her two little brothers. «We can not imagine our life without her,» her parents said, calling her «our rock» and «our little CEO.» After her death Friday, they vowed that they would live their lives in her memory. «We will make sure her brother knows what an amazing person she was,» her mother, a sixth-grade teacher in a nearby school district, told ABC News. Photo: Associated Press/Rekos Family
Avielle Richman, 6
Avielle Richman’s family moved to Newtown from San Diego last year, NBC San Diego reported, and her family documented its new life in Connecticut in a playful blog called Avielle’s Adventures. The curly-haired first-grader loved archery and tending horses, the blog showed. In a Newtown Bee obituary, her family described her as a lover of storytelling with a «spitfire personality.» It added that she loved «music, horseback riding, archery, kung fu, swimming, ice skating» and «super hero adventures.»
Lauren Rousseau, 30
Lauren Rousseau had only been a full-time substitute teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School for about three months before Friday’s shooting. The 30-year-old Danbury woman loved teaching, according to her family. The Danbury News Times reported that Rousseau planned to see «The Hobbit» with her boyfriend Friday after work and had baked cupcakes for a party they were to attend afterward. Rousseau went to the University of Connecticut, then earned a master’s degree from the University of Bridgeport. NBC Connecticut has more. Photo: Rousseau family.
Mary Sherlach, 56
School psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56, a wife and mother of two, was just a year away from retirement. She had worked at Sandy Hook Elementary school for more than 20 years and was planning to soon have more time to spend at the Finger Lakes cabin she and her husband owned, Newtown Patch reported. According to The New York Times, her husband is a financial adviser with Morgan Stanley in Fairfield, Conn. One of her daughters is a high school choral teacher in New Jersey, while another daughter is a chemistry doctoral student at Georgetown University. Photo: Associated Press/Mark Sherlach
Victoria Soto, 27
First-grade teacher Victoria Soto loved working with children. Soto, 27, was in her third year of teaching at Sandy Hook Elementary School and was working toward her masters at Southern Connecticut State University. A Yankees fan, she loved spending time with her brother, sisters, cousins and black lab Roxie. «She loved her family more than anything. Teaching and her family was her life,» her mother Donna Soto told CBS’ «This Morning.» On her school website, Victoria Soto had written that she was looking forward to «an amazing year in first grade with my amazing students of room 10!» The Hartford Courant reported that by hiding her 15 or 16 students, some in a bathroom, Soto saved their lives. Photo: myschooldesk.net
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Benjamin Wheeler wanted to be an architect, but also wanted to be a paleontologist, because that was his older brother’s dream. That’s one of the last things the 6 year old told his mother before heading to school the day of the attack, according to an obituary in The Newtown Bee. He was «a devoted fan» of his 9-year-old brother Nate, but was coming into his own. He was accumulating first-grade friends, he was becoming a stronger swimmer, he was playing soccer, «often running across the field long after it was actually necessary, but always smiling and laughing as he moved the ball.» Taking his place in his musical family, he was learning to play the piano. He loved lighthouses, the Beatles and New York City’s above-ground 7-train that ran out of the city in Queens. Photo: Associated Press.
Allison Wyatt, 6
Allison was a » kind-hearted little girl,» her family wrote in a statement to the press. She loved her family and teachers especially, but would often surprise us with random acts of kindness – once even offering her snacks to a complete stranger on a plane. Allison loved drawing and wanted to be an artist, often turning parts of the house into an “art studio” with rows of pictures taped to the wall. She loved to laugh and was developing her own wonderful sense of humor that ranged from just being a silly six-year old to coming up with observations that more than once had us crying with laughter. Photo via Cheyanne & Ben Wyatt,
Retired Sandy Hook principal will reportedly return to post when school reopens
The retired principal of Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School will reportedly return to her post when the school reopens.
The Hartford Courant reports that Donna Page will be back in the position at the school where Adam Lanza, 20, killed 20 children and six adults with a military-style assault rifle on Friday before taking his own life as police responded to the scene. Lanza also killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, 52, at her home.
Page’s return was confirmed late Tuesday by her husband, the newspaper reports.
Students at the school, which serves kindergarten through fourth grade, will resume classes in a formerly closed school in a neighboring community after the winter break, according to the Connecticut Post.
Elsewhere in Newtown, sophomore Mike Stierle said returning to Newtown High School felt “surreal,” the Courant reports.
“Not expecting anything like this to ever happen to this community,” the 16-year-old said.
In an email to Sandy Hook Elementary staff and parents on Monday, Superintendent Janet Robinson wrote that officials hope to open Chalk Hill School in Monroe in January. Sandy Hook students and their teachers will attend school there.
Using that school «is a solution that allows us to keep the entire faculty together,» she wrote. «In the meantime, we need to tend to our teachers’ and students’ needs to feel comfortable after this trauma in this new place.»
Parents will be invited to visit the school with their children this week, according to Robinson’s statement.
«For some children, it will be simply to re-enter a school and know that they are safe,» Robinson wrote.