One year later, emotions run strong

Jennifer Huettner, a Latin teacher, has worn her green and white plastic bracelet with the words “Hope, faith, love. Angels of Sandy Hook” on her wrist every single day since the Dec. 14 tragedy.

She says she does not plan on removing it anytime soon.

Huettner, who worked at Newtown High School before coming to Staples, said she knew Adam Lanza and his family very well and is still shocked at last year’s events.

“I work at sporting events at Newtown High School because I used to teach there, and whenever I’m going there, I drive by where the memorial was and this house that is still decorated with 26 ribbons,” she said. “You see it all the time and you hear about it all the time. It will never go away.”

Huettner said the support she received from the school community has been tremendous, especially from teachers like William Jones, a Newtown resident.

“Whenever we all see each other in the hall, they always ask ‘how are you,’ and I always answer ‘fine,’” Huettner said. “Whatever fine is.”

Jones, a member of the science department, cited the close-knit feeling as a reason why he and his family moved to Newtown.

He said the wounds are still fresh for many Newtown residents, and that healing is still in process.

“Every day when I drive to work, I pass two houses where families lost their little children,” he said. “Every day I drive past houses where families had kids in that building. My friends had kids in that building. Many of the surviving kids lost sisters and brothers. Most lost friends. They all lost some of their innocence and capacity to feel safe in the world.”

Jones said when he remembers the lives lost, he appreciates his own wife and two young daughters even more.

Kathryn Lieder ’14, a member of Kool to be Kind, frequently works with elementary school students and says she still cannot make sense of the tragedy.

“It could have been any innocent child,” she said. “I am still so upset that such innocent young children and caring teachers had to lose their lives because of one senseless man’s unthinkable actions.”

As the one-year anniversary approaches, Marla Friedson ’14 said she plans to encourage her classmates to wear green and white, Sandy Hook’s colors, to school that day as a sign of remembrance.

“There is an expression that is often used along with the Holocaust, and while it’s not the same situation, I think it applies,” she said. “The expression is something like ‘don’t let them die two deaths.’ What it means is people need to remember what happened so they can prevent future events like those from occurring. If they don’t do that, it is like the people that have lost their lives are dying a second death.”

During his moments of reflection Jones said he still gets angry about what happened but tries to look at the situation differently.

“If I find myself thinking about the killer, and what he did to those poor kids and their families, I of course find myself getting angry,” he said. “But I stop myself and force myself instead to think about those who died, and the joy that they had and brought to their families when they were alive. Love wins.”