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Photo Essay

Hometown dedicates school to Sandy Hook hero

Victoria Soto, a 27-year-old first grade teacher, died trying to protect her students
  • A bright new classroom space welcomes students with books and Snoopy of the Peanuts gang.
  • The completed magnet school in September features the name “Victoria Soto School” on the exterior panels.
  • A view of the new elementary school playground that includes slides and monkey bars.

December 14, 2012 is a day of tragedy that claimed the lives of 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Victoria Soto, a 27-year-old first grade teacher who died trying to protect her students, has been honored by her hometown of Stratford, Connecticut, with the a newly constructed $18 million magnet elementary school bearing her name.

The Victoria Soto School, which replaced the aging Honeyspot House School, opened in September to serve more than 200 pre-K through grade 2 students with a capacity for nearly 300 students in 14 classrooms. Stratford’s superintendent, Janet Robinson, was Newtown’s chief at the time of the Sandy Hook shooting.

The school is awash with bright colors, messages of inspiration and kindness, and depictions of Soto’s favorite animal, flamingos, in the hallways and classrooms. Every teacher’s chair is pink.

“The staff and I consider it an honor to work in a school named after our Stratford hometown teacher hero,” says Koren Paul, former Honeyspot principal and current principal of Chapel Street Elementary School in Stratford. “There are many nuances throughout the building that celebrate the memory of Victoria Soto. And a huge focal point of Victoria Soto School is the 10-by-10-foot mosaic ‘be kind’ mural the Soto family and the Vicki Soto Memorial Fund contributed.”

Victoria Soto School offers new technology resources such as a cordless headset sound system, smart boards and schoolwide Wi-Fi. Innovative art, music and drama programs are part of the curriculum to inspire creativity.

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