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Sandy Hook Elementary School returns

New $50 million, 86,000-square-foot building has a nature theme

Almost four years after the tragic shootings in Sandy Hook, a new elementary school has opened to young students in Newtown, Connecticut.

The $50 million, 86,000-square-foot Sandy Hook Elementary School opened in late August to 400 students in pre-K through grade 4. The building includes a number of new safety measures, such as secure doors, video monitoring and impact-resistant windows. The facility sits on the same grounds as the old school but is located further back on the property.

The old facility was demolished in November 2013 and new construction began in March 2015. The students of that school spent the last three years at neighboring Chalk Hill School in Monroe, which wasn’t being used at the time of the shootings that claimed the lives of 20 students and six teachers.

There is no memorial on the property. One is planned in the future though its location has not been determined.

The theme of the new school is nature. Shelly the turtle—who has been a Sandy Hook mascot of sorts for 10 years—greets visitors in a large tank. The topography of the New England town, with its scenic hills and forests, was considered in the new construction, which features multiple learning tree houses.

“Nature promotes cognition and well-being, and it is disappearing from children’s everyday life,” Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra wrote in an email. “Nature is important to children’s development in every major way—intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually and physically.” —R.L.