Compassion & Courage

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Compassion & Courage

What we learn from teachers, parents and students in Newtown, Connecticut

By Betsy Corcoran (Columnist)     Dec 19, 2012

Compassion & Courage

This perch above the town was a favorite spot of high school sweethearts when I was in school in Newtown, Connecticut. You could see one of the town's highlights--its flagpole, that local oddity, stuck in the middle of the town's busiest four-way intersection. Plenty of out-of-towners ran into it. We eventually coaxed Hartford into declaring it an historic monument, finally silencing the bickering about taking it down.

Newtown had other notable spots, too: its only movie theater is in the town hall and shows movies--albeit a bit late--for $1 (or now $2) a ticket. I sold stale, reheated popcorn there countless weekends. There's the annual used book sale--one of the largest in the region--that the library volunteers run. A pizza restaurant, which seemed to expand every year, was the hotspot for class reunions and other big functions. My best friend's father, the town doctor, tried to keep cows. They frequently wandered off--headed vaguely in the direction of the flagpole--and had to be chased back to their field.

No matter how many historic plaques, though, any town is truly made up of its people. To me, Newtown is defined by the compassion and quiet bravery of its people. Its teachers. Its community, especially parents. And of course, its children.

Compassion turned this past Monday into a play day for children, a time to come together and heal.

Courage brought teachers to open up their classroom doors on Tuesday and welcome back their students.

And courage is what it will take for the teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary to start again in a new school in January--to open their arms to their students, then to call for order and begin, again, to teach.

Shortly after the shooting, the next-door town of Monroe offered to reopen a Chalk Hill Middle School for the students and teachers of Sandy Hook. They'll head back to school in January. In the weeks ahead, the school will likely need support and supplies. You can check this local website or use some of the links below to support the efforts to reopen this school. EdSurge will also let you know if the teachers and families of Sandy Hook need extra support in the coming months.

Here are some words shared by my high school friend, Sue Lang, a Newtown Middle School teacher:

"Our beautiful children return to school today. It is going to be rough, and there will be tears. Not everyone is a sense, no one is ready. But we will be together in our incredibly loving school place, and together--staff and students, bus drivers and lunch ladies, custodians and secretaries, administrators and paraprofessionals, teachers and children--together, we will get through this and start to heal. At some point, we have to run out of tears...right?"

Yes, the tears will at some point subside. But the courage that flows through the hearts of our teachers, students and parents will only grow stronger.

The Newtown Alumni Fund is giving monies donated to the local Rotary Club Fund: (Newtown Alumni Fund, PO Box 3217, Newtown, CT 06470)

If you want to act, do something kind and share it via #26Acts, tweets about acts of kindness in memory of those lost.

And if you want to take a small step toward making our communities safer, join One Million Moms for Gun Control and write your Senators and Representatives.

Betsy Corcoran graduated from Newtown High School and was married at St. Rose of Lima Church, also in Newtown.

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