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Connecticut school shooting: Demolish or renovate Sandy Hook school?

Connecticut school shooting: Newtown residents are debating the future of Sandy Hook Elementary School where 20 students and six teachers were killed in a shooting. Options for the Connecticut school include making it a memorial, demolishing it, and renovating it.

By Dave CollinsAssociated Press / January 14, 2013

Aimee Tabor, (left) mother of a Sandy Hook Elementary School student, speaks during a community meeting about the school, in Newtown, Connecticut, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013. After last month's school shooting there are differing opinions on whether students and staff should ever return to the building where a gunman killed 20 students and six educators. Standing at right is Francis Pennorla, moderator.

(AP Photo/Michelle McLoughlin, Pool)

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Newtown, Conn.

A month after a gunman killed 26 people at an elementary school, some Newtown parents say the building should be demolished, while others believe the school should be renovated and the areas where the killings occurred removed.

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Talk has turned to the future of the Sandy Hook Elementary School as life slowly begins moving forward in town. Resident at a public meeting Sunday made passionate arguments about whether their kids should ever return to the site of the tragedy.

"I have two children who had everything taken from them," said Audrey Bart, whose children attend the school but weren't injured in the shooting. "The Sandy Hook Elementary School is their school. It is not the world's school. It is not Newtown's school. We cannot pretend it never happened, but I am not prepared to ask my children to run and hide. You can't take away their school."

But fellow Sandy Hook parent Stephanie Carson said she can't imagine ever sending her son back to the building where 20 first-graders and six educators died.

"I know there are children who were there who want to go back," Carson said. "But the reality is, I've been to the new school where the kids are now, and we have to be so careful just walking through the halls. They are still so scared."

The meeting at Newtown High School about the future of Sandy Hook drew about 200 people. A second meeting has been set for Friday. Town officials also are planning private meetings with the victims' families to get their input.

On Monday, the grassroots group Sandy Hook Promise invited victims' family members to a news conference where an initiative to prevent similar tragedies was to be unveiled.

Co-founder Tim Makris said Friday the group, formerly known as Newtown United, does not represent or speak for the families. "We're here to help and support the families when they're ready to move forward," he said.

Although opinions were mixed at Sunday's meeting in Newtown, most agreed that the Sandy Hook children and teachers should stay together. They've been moved to a school building about seven miles away in a neighboring town that has been renamed Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Mergim Bajraliu, a senior at Newtown High School, attended Sandy Hook, and his sister is a fourth-grader there. He said the school should stay as it is, and a memorial for the victims should be built there.

"We have our best childhood memories at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and I don't believe that one psychopath — who I refuse to name — should get away with taking away any more than he did on Dec 14," he said.

Police say Adam Lanza, 20, killed his mother at the home they shared in Newtown before opening fire with a semi-automatic rifle at the school and killing himself as police arrived.

Last week, residents around town expressed similar opinions about the school's future.

Susan Gibney, who lives in Sandy Hook, said she purposely doesn't drive by the school because it's too disturbing. She has three children in high school, but they didn't attend Sandy Hook Elementary School. She believes the building should be torn down.

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