A letter to the Sandy Hook Elementary School I Knew As A Child
As I watch the world descend upon you and our quaint, idyllic town, I weep for your loss of innocence. Yet through my tears, I smile as I reflect upon the childhood memories that shaped my life within the confines of your safe haven. The following are my personal memories, yet I know there are thousands similar to mine:
*In one of your classrooms, our teacher read “Where The Red Fern Grows” to us. This singular experience ignited my lifelong love affair with reading and writing (and probably with hound dogs as well).
*Every morning I held my little hand over my heart and said the Pledge of Allegiance with my homeroom class.
*We dissected fetal pigs outside on picnic tables, and my fascination with anatomy and medicine was born. This same teacher also brought sheep to class, which we sheared, spun their wool into yarn, and knitted some keepsake. I am sure these sparks of animal husbandry helped shape my career as a licensed veterinary technician.
*I developed my first real crush on a boy in 5th grade.
*I attended after-school Brownie and then Girl Scout classes, where I learned without a doubt that sewing and cooking would not be in my future, but that horseback riding would.
*I played hop scotch and jump rope in the firehouse parking lot while we attended classes there for several months. Not much else to do in a parking lot during recess.
*I had a triangular device put on my pencils because I didn’t hold them “correctly”. I still don’t, but I have beautiful penmanship all the same.
*I remember the names of my elementary school teachers, principal, classmates, and school bus drivers, yet have a difficult time bringing up the names of my college professors.
*I looked forward every year to the Book Fair, Strawberry Festival, and Field Days. Jolly Green Giant footprints would lead us down the driveway to the school (he was our mascot). My mom would help organize events and my dad would do the face painting, and I was proud of my parents for being involved in my life and my education.
*We had a deaf classmate, and I learned American Sign Language. To this day, I can still fly through the alphabet, and I remember his personal sign just for me (a “T” pulled through my long hair).
*Right after lunch, we would go to the library and sit cross-legged in front of the librarian as she would read us a story. The smell of oranges still brings up memories of her.
So, Sandy Hook Elementary School, do not let this tragic event define you. Instead, you are defined by the happy childhood memories of generations of students like me who got their start in life within your walls. Our adult selves thank you from the bottom of our hearts. God Bless.
Tracy Bittner, attended 1974-1979