Shock, Grief, and Extra Security: Local Reaction to the Elementary School Shooting in Newtown

A police presence at the schools and more parents coming to pick up their kids were two signs that the news had reached local schools.


Police cars stationed at schools in East Lyme and at every Lyme-Old Lyme School today along with parking lots more packed than usual with parents coming to pick up their kids and give them extra long hugs were two signs that everyone had heard the news of the tragic elementary school shooting in Newtown this morning.

Superintendents of both school districts called emergency meetings with school principals at the end of the day to go over their own plans for emergencies and to discuss how they might best help students and assist parents who may be struggling to try to explain what is, at its core, essentially an inexplicable act of violence perpetrated against innocent children.

Lyme-Old Lyme Superintendent Ian Neviaser said the schools chose not to tell students the news today and, judging from the number of cheerful children greeting their parents at Flanders Elementary School in East Lyme, the East Lyme schools had opted to do the same.

The Lyme-Old Lyme School District, however, did send out emails to parents and posted a letter from Neviaser on Regional School District 18's website, with a link for parents who need advice on how to help children cope with violence. 

Neviaser said the schools will be working with the Lymes' Youth Service Bureau through the weekend to provide counseling and assistance as needed. "If you or your child need to speak with someone immediately, please call the LYSB (860-434-7208) at any time day or night," the letter read.   

"It's a tragic, tragic day and our hearts go out to the families," Neviaser said. 

Police were assigned to all the schools as a precautionary measure. Old Lyme State Trooper Thomas Heinssen said that police officers were stationed at every school in the Lyme-Old Lyme School District today at the request of both the Superintendent of Schools and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, and that they would remain at the schools next week.

"It's a tragedy beyond comprehension," said Reemsnyder. "I don't know how to process this. I've seen a lot of people today whose hearts are breaking for the families." 

Saint Ann's Church in Old Lyme organized a prayer vigil open to everyone this evening at 6 p.m.

"I invite you with a heavy heart seeking all of our participation in an Ecumenical Effort tonight as we pray for those killed today in Newtown," writes The Rev. Canon Mark K. J. Robinson in an announcement posted on Patch. "I hope we can respond collectively at this tragic time."


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