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Sandy Hook One Year on

NEWTOWN, Conn., -- Nearly one year after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the town has struggled to reclaim its identity as a quaint New England town. A "Welcome to Sandy Hook" sign of angels hung along highway 34. Photo by Robert Stolarik.

NEWTOWN, Conn., -- Nearly one year after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the town has struggled to reclaim its identity as a quaint New England town. 26 stars on the roof of the local fire station juxtaposed with a fire prevention sign show the town's struggle to move forward. Photo by Robert Stolarik.

NEWTOWN, Conn., -- Nearly one year after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the town has struggled to reclaim its identity as a quaint New England town.

NEWTOWN, Conn., -- Nearly one year after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the town has struggled to reclaim its identity as a quaint New England town. American flags representing those killed in the shooting were now covered in mold while some were buried in leaves. Photo by Robert Stolarik.

NEWTOWN, Conn., -- Nearly one year after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the town has struggled to reclaim its identity as a quaint New England town. American flags representing those killed in the shooting were now covered in mold while some were buried in leaves. Photo by Robert Stolarik.

NEWTOWN, Conn., -- Nearly one year after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the town has struggled to reclaim its identity as a quaint New England town. A security guard, a gate, surveillance system and nearly a dozen no trespassing signs surrounded the entrance to where the elementary school once stood. Photo by Robert Stolarik.

NEWTOWN, Conn., -- Nearly one year after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the town has struggled to reclaim its identity as a quaint New England town. A sign hanging on a pole on the road leading to the elementary school. Image by Robert Stolarik.

NEWTOWN, Conn., -- Nearly one year after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the town has struggled to reclaim its identity as a quaint New England town. A memorial set up a near the shooting filled the yard of a home. Photo by Robert Stolarik.

NEWTOWN, Conn., -- Nearly one year after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the town has struggled to reclaim its identity as a quaint New England town. A memorial set up a near the shooting filled the yard of a home. Photo by Robert Stolarik.

NEWTOWN, Conn., -- Nearly one year after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the town has struggled to reclaim its identity as a quaint New England town. A memorial set up a near the shooting filled the yard of a home. Photo by Robert Stolarik.

NEWTOWN, Conn., -- Nearly one year after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the town has struggled to reclaim its identity as a quaint New England town. The local fire station has 26 stars on the roof commemorating the victims of the mass shooting. Photo by Robert Stolarik.

NEWTOWN, Conn., -- Nearly one year after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the town has struggled to reclaim its identity as a quaint New England town. For sale signs on homes near the elementary school. Photo by Robert Stolarik.

NEWTOWN, Conn., -- A stairway leading to a stream in downtown Newtown.

NEWTOWN, Conn., -- A stairway leading to a stream in downtown Newtown.

NEWTOWN, Conn., -- Nearly one year after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the town has struggled to reclaim its identity as a quaint New England town. Many homes in the neighborhood where shooter Adam Lanza lived in Newtown still had a green ribbon on the mailbox, a symbol used to show support and create awareness for those suffering from various illnesses. Photo by Robert Stolarik.

NEWTOWN, Conn., -- Nearly one year after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the town has struggled to reclaim its identity as a quaint New England town. Adam Lanza's home on Yogananda Street. (Robert Stolarik for JJIE)

NEW MILFORD, Conn., -- Nearly one year after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the town has struggled to reclaim its identity as a quaint New England town. A shooting range in New Milford is the closest to Sandy Hook.

 

Text by Daryl Khan / Photos by Robert Stolarik

NEWTOWN, Conn. — Sandy Hook Elementary School has been razed.

The process of destroying the school — where last year Adam Lanza, a socially awkward 20-year old, massacred 20 first-grade students and six teachers and staff in a matter of minutes — began earlier in the year and is now nearly complete. It was a secretive project. Construction workers who participated in the demolition of the site were forced by town officials to sign nondisclosure agreements promising not to speak about their work or to take pictures or video recordings. They remain forbidden from removing so much as a brick from the site. Officials promised they are having all the debris hauled away and destroyed at a clandestine location.

They have recently warned that the site of the school is contaminated. At a recent council meeting, it was revealed that there were higher than expected levels of lead, asbestos, and PCBs in the construction debris collected from the leveled site. A glance at the area around the school reflects the fact that this is indeed treated like poisoned land.

Last year, the road leading from the small downtown of Sandy Hook was lined with all manner of makeshift tributes to the victims of the shooting. Piles of flowers, stuffed animals, letters scrawled on scrap paper cut into the shape of hearts taped to utility poles, votive candles in rows of 26 could be found everywhere around the school. Now, nearly a year later, those dedications have been swept away. In their place are rows of municipal signs warning visitors away. DO NOT ENTER. No Parking Anytime. No Trespassing. Violators Will Be Prosecuted.

A wrought iron gate blocks the entrance to the site where the school, built in 1956, once stood. A video monitor is mounted above the gate next to another sign that reads: Electronic Surveillance Equipment In Use, with an image of a camera on it. Last year, mourners hung handmade foil stars with names of the dead children off the bushes and trees near the entrance to the school. They have been replaced with pink and blue ribbons tied on by Newtown officials indicating spots for soil testing.

Aerial shots of the site show a dirt field, mostly landfill, criss-crossed with the tracks of construction vehicles. Next to the flattened site are gravel piles of varying size and patterns. From above, they look like massive primitive grave mounds.

A new school is slated to be complete by 2016.

“We can do better than this”

While local officials are preoccupied with wiping any physical trace of the school off the face of the earth, it’s the memory, and the enormity of what occurred there, that has become a touchstone for all manner of public policy reform across the state, and the nation. As the residents of Newtown deal with the stigma of the tragedy, advocates, politicians and experts still invoke their notorious hometown to call for change in state houses and school houses across the country.

The Sunday after the shooting, President Barack Obama visited Newtown and delivered a speech in a crammed auditorium at the local high school. He promised to concentrate the powers of his office on preventing another massacre.

“We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change,” he said. “We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true.  No single law — no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.”

But, he added, the nation had an “obligation to try.” And, they have — local officials, advocates, policy experts, and even the parents of the slain children — have worked to “do better.” The president started a conversation that night that put mental health reform at the forefront of political discourse like it had never been before. It is a conversation that still continues today less than a week removed from the anniversary of the killings.

>> Click here to read the full article 

 

One Comment on “Sandy Hook One Year on

  1. Pingback: Sandy Hook One Year on, the Nation Struggles With the Stigma of Mental Illness | Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

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