The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 14, 2013

Newtown debates future of school where 26 died

(Continued)

Co-founder Tim Makris said Friday the group, formerly known as Newtown United, does not represent or speak for the families. "We're here to help and support the families when they're ready to move forward," he said.

Although opinions were mixed at Sunday's meeting in Newtown, most agreed that the Sandy Hook children and teachers should stay together. They've been moved to a school building about seven miles away in a neighboring town that has been renamed Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Mergim Bajraliu, a senior at Newtown High School, attended Sandy Hook, and his sister is a fourth-grader there. He said the school should stay as it is, and a memorial for the victims should be built there.

"We have our best childhood memories at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and I don't believe that one psychopath — who I refuse to name — should get away with taking away any more than he did on Dec 14," he said.

Police say Adam Lanza, 20, killed his mother at the home they shared in Newtown before opening fire with a semi-automatic rifle at the school and killing himself as police arrived.

Last week, residents around town expressed similar opinions about the school's future.

Susan Gibney, who lives in Sandy Hook, said she purposely doesn't drive by the school because it's too disturbing. She has three children in high school, but they didn't attend Sandy Hook Elementary School. She believes the building should be torn down.

"I wouldn't want to have to send my kids back to that school," said Gibney, 50. "I just don't see how the kids could get over what happened there."

Laurie Badick, of Newtown, whose children attended the school several years ago, said she's torn. "Sandy Hook school meant the world to us before this happened. ... I have my memories in my brain and in my heart, so the actual building, I think the victims need to decide what to do with that."

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