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Sandy Hook students return to school with heightened security, therapy dogs

Associated Press

Publication: theday.com

Published August 27. 2013 7:00PM   Updated August 27. 2013 7:18PM
Craig Hoekenga via AP Photo
In this photo provided by Craig Hoekenga, his son Trey Hoekenga, a kindergarten student at Sandy Hook Elementary School, waves from the school bus on the first day of school Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013, in Newtown, Conn. On the bus window is a quote by the late principal, Dawn Hochsprung: "Be nice to each other. It's really all that matters." Hochsprung was among 26 people killed at the school by gunman Adam Lanza on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. Students from the school are being bused to the neighboring town of Monroe where a former middle school was renovated for them after the shootings.

MONROE, Conn. (AP) — Therapy dogs and heightened security greeted Sandy Hook Elementary School students Tuesday as they began their first full year of school without the 20 children and six educators slain in the December massacre.

The students from Newtown are being bused to the neighboring town of Monroe, where a former middle school was renovated for them after the Dec. 14 shootings.

"Things went well," said Brenda Lebinski, whose 9-year-old daughter is starting fourth grade at the school. "There was a lot of police presence when we pulled in. There were lots of teachers and therapy dogs greeting the kids when they walked in."

Lebinski said her daughter's transition was eased because she was able to have the same teacher as last year.

"She was very happy to be back at school," Lebinski said. "Most of the kids were fine."

On one of the school buses carrying the Sandy Hook children on Tuesday morning, a window was decorated with a quotation from the school's slain principal, Dawn Hochsprung: "Be nice to each other. It's really all that matters."

More than 400 students attend the elementary school for children from the village of Sandy Hook in Newtown, where officials had security posted at schools. The district has announced a partnership with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York to review school security measures and make recommendations.

A lone gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, killed 26 people at the school and committed suicide after fatally shooting his mother at their Newtown home. The motive remains unclear.

Town voters will be asked in October to approve plans to demolish the school where the massacre occurred and build a new one on the same property.

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