KSC students grieve for friends, classmates, neighbors and Sandy Hook
Student Life Editor
Liz Anderson remembers Adam Lanza.
“I heard the name and saw the picture and I said, ‘I used to walk the halls with that kid.’”
The morning of Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where approximately 700 children were enrolled.
Newtown father Carl Angelovic’s daughter attends Sandy Hook but wasn’t in class that Friday. His cousin, however, was in Victoria Soto’s classroom.
At approximately 9:35 a.m., Angelovic’s nephew fled Soto’s classroom where six of his peers were murdered. The boy told Angelovic he remembers brushing against Lanza’s body as he left the room.
By evening the same day, eight little boys, 12 girls, ten adults and the mother of Adam Lanza perished in the quiet town of Newtown, Conn. Officials at Danbury Hospital anticipated the arrival of victims. Only three would arrive.
Twenty-six lives were lost; a nation began to grieve.
Anderson, a Keene State College junior, remembered Lanza from middle school and high school growing up in Newtown.
“I went to school with the shooter,” Anderson stated.
“I graduated with him. He was just that quiet kid who was really off to himself. Imagine that quiet kid you graduated with doing something like this.”
On Dec. 14, Newtown was breaking news. December 15, 16, and the days that followed, through Christmas and into the new year, Sandy Hook Elementary was breaking news.
Today, it’s not.
But for many KSC students, those “26 angels” remain breaking news because tragedy struck their home.
Senior Alison Cederbaum lives in Trumbull, Conn. Cederbaum said her close location to Newtown made the event that much more real. Cederbaum said she can name each of the 26 perished, leading her to reflect on Columbine and Virginia Tech. Cederbaum admitted she could not name a single victim from those shootings.
Trumbull is 559 miles from Blacksburg, Va, the town which boasts home to Virginia Tech. Trumbull is 15 miles from Newtown.
“It’s not that I didn’t care about Columbine,” she said, “But I had more of an interest in this. Think about Virginia Tech. I couldn’t tell you half the victims’ names or half the victims’ stories, but because my town was so close I care so much about this.”
Though still a subject of the evening news, Cederbaum said Sandy Hook has become “old news” to KSC students whose lives are focused on the spring semester. While KSC students have classes and weekend plans to worry about, Cederbaum questioned whether her student body ever took a moment to remember a community’s pain that remains unhealed. “I just feel like people aren’t so much into hearing about it because now it’s like past news,” she said. “I haven’t heard anyone in my classes bring up Sandy Hook. Now there’s new current events. It’s important to realize we’re living our everyday lives and there are people back in Newtown still grieving.”
Freshman Jaime Drisdelle lives in West Springfield, Mass., approximately 75 miles from Newtown.
Drisdelle said since being back at school, Newtown has not been a subject of talk. “It was so long ago now,” she said, “It was a tragedy, and I don’t think anyone will move on. It’s just such a sad topic.”
Though to some, it looks like KSC may be moving on, many among the student body still can’t, and more importantly, they won’t.
Anderson envisioned that her community of Newtown has a long road ahead before they can move forward, if ever.
“No one was really able to move on because everywhere you looked people were printing the kids’ pictures out and sticking them all over the place. Twenty-six of everything. Everywhere you looked, there was 26 of something,” Anderson said.
Moving back to Keene after break, Anderson said she sees nothing to remind her of Sandy Hook.
“At home that’s still the topic,” she explained, “You go in the grocery store and that’s all that people are talking about. They’re crying and hugging each other, and then you come here and it’s like nothing happened at all. It’s weird because at home it’s almost like everyone’s still living in it. Here, not that I forget about it, but it’s not really a huge thing.”
Today, students of Sandy Hook roam the halls of the same school where many students once found themselves. This vision has made the tragedy even more surreal for some.
One such student is Carly Paul. It has been nearly nine years since the junior attended Chalk Hill Middle School located in Monroe, Conn.
Paul explained her once closed middle school has been re-opened and renovated for Sandy Hook kids.
“I think it’s so nice knowing that I’m from a town that was able to be so generous and help these little kids out. We hear so many bad things in the news, but we have never really been a part of it.”
Not only was Paul connected to the school, she said she remembers Chase Kowlaski, one of the 20 children who lost their lives on Dec. 14.
“I took a class the other day at the gym, and Chase’s mom was standing next to me,” she said, “She talked about how she was coping and mentioned that the family was going on vacation to spread his ashes.” Also from Monroe, is junior Jessica Kling. Kling said she was studying in Italy when she heard the news of tragedy striking just ten minutes from her home.
Kling said the news was “heart wrenching. Going home, I could not believe it. I can’t even describe the feelings talking about it. It was an eerie feeling going through Newtown.”
Kling said she never attended a memorial. “I didn’t want to see it and really believe it was real— it’s just too close to my home,” she said.
KSC sophomore Nicole Gindraux lives in Newtown. Like Kling, Gindraux said waking up to sirens the morning of Dec. 14 remains “surreal” in her mind.
Gindraux said that while most Newtown residents remained in their homes for the first week, her streets overflowed with visitors from across the country pouring in. The sophomore said she found the support from visiting states kindly, though difficult just the same.
“It was nice to see that that many people cared. For us, at least to me, it didn’t seem like a nationwide thing until we started seeing everyone talking about it. But then again, everyone talked about it for like, the first week. Then it just kind of faded off, because it was just news,” she said. “It just kind of seemed like it was news to everybody else. Its not like I blame anybody, because I’d probably be the same way if I didn’t live in Newtown.”
With the reputation for being a teaching school, KSC serves home to many aspiring elementary school teachers. Victoria Soto, the 28-year-old classroom hero who gave her life on Dec. 14 in attempt to save the innocent lives of her students, could have been a face among the teaching crowd at KSC.
Senior Alyssa Bardinelli is a substitute teacher at an elementary school in Easton, Conn., approximately 10 miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School.
For Bardinelli and many like her, the tragedy took on a new meaning with the connection the senior could make through her experiences as a teacher.
“I was a little nervous to go back to subbing that following Monday,” Bardinelli said, “But all of the faculty and staff received reassuring information that there would be extra security in the building and all of the doors would be locked at all times.”
“I am now more aware of what others are capable of.” It was then that Bardinelli realized that everything in her school would be different.
Education major Kristy Mastropietro’s extended family resides in Newtown. Mastropietro said to go into a classroom the next week and substitute teach for kids of the same age as the victims was difficult. The senior said she had a newfound concern for her students’ safety.
Mastropietro visited Newtown to support her 11-year-old cousin who wanted to bring cupcakes to the local fire station and police station in Newtown.
“My aunt knew eight of the children and my cousin was very close with one of them. It was really close to home for me,” Mastropietro continued, “It was nice to see how much support there was, but to also see the struggling places and the struggling town, that was hard.”
Keene is 144 miles from Newtown. That’s three hours removed from tragedy. Three hours away from 26 Christmas trees, 26 ribbons, 26 angels, 26 faces posted on telephone poles and storefront windows.
It would seem these 144 miles have given KSC the opportunity to keep tragedy a good arms’ length away. But next to you in class there sits a peer whose cousin was killed, whose neighbor was shot and whose town will forever grieve.
Julie Conlon can be contacted at
Megan Markus contributed to this story.
Megan Markus can be contacted at