December 17, 2014 21:52 UTC

Education

Tragedy at One School, Renewal at Another

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Mourners gather for the wake for Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Charlotte Helen Bacon, 6, in Newtown, Connecticut
Mourners gather for the wake for Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Charlotte Helen Bacon, 6, in Newtown, Connecticut

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From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report in Special English.
 
Funerals began this week for the school shooting victims in Newtown, Connecticut. Last Friday a 20-year-old local man killed 20 children, six educators and himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Officials say Adam Lanza used guns owned by his mother after shooting her to death at their home.
 
The shooting was the second deadliest ever at an American school. In 2007 a student at Virginia Tech killed 32 people and then himself.
 
What happened in Newtown has once again reopened debate about gun control and issues like mental health services. President Obama spoke Sunday at a memorial service in the town. He said he will use whatever power he has as president "in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this."
 
On Wednesday, he named Vice President Joe Biden to lead an administration team in developing proposals to reduce gun violence.
 
Students at Sandy Hook Elementary are expected to return to school in a neighboring town in January after winter break. Sandy Hook will remain closed until further notice.
 
In the gunfire last week, a community lost a school for the most tragic of reasons. Days earlier, another community not very far away regained a school in a story of hope, renewal and the strength of the human spirit.
 
Flooding from Hurricane Sandy nearly destroyed Saint Camillus School in the Rockaway area of Queens, in New York City. The Catholic school stands just a short distance from the Atlantic Ocean. The more than 200 students and teachers went to another school while Saint Camillus was closed for six weeks.
 
Janine Cerrone with her kindergarten class at Saint Camillus Catholic school in New York. (VOA/A. Phillips)Janine Cerrone with her kindergarten class at Saint Camillus Catholic school in New York. (VOA/A. Phillips)
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Janine Cerrone with her kindergarten class at Saint Camillus Catholic school in New York. (VOA/A. Phillips)
Janine Cerrone with her kindergarten class at Saint Camillus Catholic school in New York. (VOA/A. Phillips)
Many people remain displaced in the area. But the reopening of the school on December 10 was a victory for the community.
 
"So good morning boys and girls. 
 
"Good morning, Sister Agnes!"
 
Sister Agnes White is principal of Saint Camillus. 
 
"We're all together. We're back home, and we are ready to start anew."
 
Earlier, Sister Agnes gave cut-out paper stars to students to tape anywhere they wanted on the school walls.       
 
"Between now and Christmas, this building should be filled with stars, a symbol of light. We all lost light. We know what it's like to be without light. But now we have light in this building and we need the light that you're going to put up with the stars, a symbol of the light of Jesus Christ."
 
Parts of the school remain damaged beyond repair. Some students lost their homes as a result of the storm.
 
School secretary Kerry Montero says the message from Hurricane Sandy is clearest in the many recent acts of kindness.
 
"It's touching, you know, the outpouring of help that we've received from everyone.  I mean, we've had people from Connecticut, California, Brooklyn, all over the place, coming and helping us."
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