Hundreds of people gathered at a candlelight vigil Tuesday night to remember the victims of the Newtown school shootings, to offer their support and prayers as a community and to comfort one another.
“We lose children every day, to disease, accidents, even war. But we do not lose children this way,” Mayor Heather Bond Somers said as a cold drizzle fell on the crowd at Fitch High School football stadium. “When we experience such tragedy, even from arm's length, we are reminded how truly fragile life is.”
“I know we all went home and hugged our loved ones and our children a little tighter Friday night,” said school board Chairwoman Kirsten Hoyt. “My heart goes out to the parents and families who were unable to do so.”
First 28 Candles
Residents lit 28 candles in memory of those lost, then spread the light among the crowd and sang “Silent Night” and “Amazing Grace.”
Rev. Paul Hayes of Noank Baptist Church and Mark Porizky of St. Andrew Presbyterian Church said prayers.
"Remind us that we are strengthened as we love one another," Porizky said.
Carole Moore, a speech pathologist at Pleasant Valley Elementary, said she needed to be present at the vigil.
“It’s from my heart, that’s all I’m going to say. I have not stopped crying,” she said.
At Pleasant Valley on Monday, a police officer walked the building, staff locked doors and administrators gave teachers walkie-talkies so they could communicate with the main office.
Hard to Return to School
Merriann Yering said it was hard to drop off her sons at Catherine Kolnaski Magnet School Monday.
“Oh, I was a mess today,” she said. "I was a mess today."
She said she walked her two 9-year-old boys into school, saw the police presence, then "just kind of lost it."
"Because they turn around and say, ‘Hey, I love you,’ and you say, ‘Have a good day,’ and you want to turn around and take them back (home) but you can’t," she said. Yering said it's important to keep the routines and get back to those.
She said she brought her sons to the vigil to show them “No matter what bad things happen, that they’re loved and the community is going to be there and people are going to be there.”
Action in an emergency
D.J. Beaudet, 9, a fourth-grader at Catherine Kolnaski, said he talked to his friend a little about what happened in Newtown, but only a little.
“I just try to keep my cool. That’s what I did,” he said.
He said he knows what to do in an emergency: What the teacher says.
Lock the doors, shut off the lights, go in the corner or hide, and stay quiet.
His father, Dave Beaudet, said he was happy to see an officer at the school Monday and shook his hand.
“I don’t think that presence should leave,” he said. Beaudet said he believes every school should have a police officer and he also supports metal detectors.
Tracy Beaudet, a kindergarten aide at Mary Morrisson Elementary, said she felt uneasy going back to school but went on with her day, as did other staff, so children would not be scared. She said a couple of kids were not themselves.
Ellen Dieckerhoff, who taught for 37 years and retired two years ago, said it pains her to think of the parents who lost their children in Newtown. She said she attended the ceremony as an expression of her love for the community.
But she added, “I don’t know about closure. I don’t know that there is closure to this one.”