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College students carry memory of Sandy Hook a year later

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The Sandy Hook school shootings one year ago were just one of the horrific incidents the nation has seen that students old enough to remember will carry with them.

Those who were high school seniors last year have now moved on to enter the workforce, join the armed services or further their education in college. Freshmen at Jefferson Community College shared their experience from last year and described how the tragic events have stayed with them.

Faylo E. Kennedy, who was a senior at Beaver River Central School, said her school held a moment of silence. Haley A. Riley said students in her Lowville Academy math class wrote letters to high school students in Newtown, Conn. Some students acknowledged that they didn’t talk about it much.

Jarika J. Nuffer, a former LaFargeville Central School student, said administrators told older students to be mindful of what they said in front of younger ones.

“We were high schoolers walking in the same halls as the little kids,” she said. “I just wanted to stop them and ask them what their names were and talk to them.”

In the days after the shooting, school staff took time to go over safety procedures. A rarely enforced rule prohibiting students from carrying backpacks in school was reinforced at Beaver River Central.

Miss Kennedy said she and her peers tried to think of a reason why someone would do what Adam Lanza did. Her abnormal psychology class discussed mental illnesses the shooter could have had. Miss Kennedy said even when Lanza’s diagnosis was released stating he suffered from Asperger’s, an autism-like disorder that is not associated with violence, it didn’t excuse his actions.

“There wasn’t really an explanation,” Miss Kennedy said. “It felt like this could still happen to anyone who is pushed too far; you never know who could do this.”

Katherine G. Neuroth, a former Hammond Central School student, said she was at first alarmed by the news, then very upset. “When you think of a school shooting, you never think of young children going through that. Those kids, they are too innocent for that.”

Miss Neuroth said that although she never experienced such a dire emergency in her school, she could relate because of a lockdown that happened there.

“They found a pipe bomb at our school. It wasn’t set to go off, but they found it in a locker and put the school on lockdown,” she said. “We were just coming back to the school and over the bus radio, you could hear everything people in the office were saying.”

“That must have been very alarming for the elementary kids,” she said. “I couldn’t relate to the loss” at Sandy Hook, “but I could relate to the fear of it.”

Elizabeth J. Kilcer noted that last year, when she was a senior at Indian River High School, there were several national tragedies, including the Boston Marathon bombings April 15. She said that, because of the high volume of unexpected attacks, she felt detached from them.

“It’s becoming normal to hear about attacks and threats,” she said.

Miss Riley said one of the things she took from her teachers was listening and being prepared in case of an emergency. “They tried to drill into us that, when they tell us to do something, do it; listen to instructions and be aware of your surroundings,” she said. “You have to trust who you are with and always be looking out for yourself.”

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