The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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January 3, 2013

School starts at new building for Sandy Hook kids

(Continued)

Most of the students arrived at the new school in Monroe by bus, something school officials had suggested to help them get back into a familiar routine.

Nick Phelps, who lives a few blocks from the original Sandy Hook school, said his first-grader and third-grader are excited about the new school because it means a longer bus ride to Monroe, which is about 7 miles away.

He was there when the bus brought them home Thursday afternoon.

"I was never so excited to see my children and, certainly, to see my children get off the bus. There was a shared joy," he said.

About 80 parents attended an assembly Thursday with school and police officials, who fielded questions about security and activities planned for their children. White said security will remain at a high level for now and will be re-evaluated each week.

The gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, shot and killed his mother inside their Newtown home before driving to the school. He shot his way into the building and carried out the massacre before committing suicide as police arrived.

On Thursday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced the creation of an advisory commission that will review and recommend changes to state laws and policies on gun control, school safety measures and mental health services in the wake of the Sandy Hook rampage.

Teams of workers, many of them volunteers, prepared the new school and even raised bathroom floors so the smaller elementary school students can reach the toilets. The students' backpacks and other belongings that were left behind after the shooting were taken to the new school to make them feel at home.

Students found the same chairs and desks, when possible. Their classroom walls were painted the same colors and hung with the same pictures. Other details, such as the location of bookshelves and cubby holes, were replicated as much as possible.

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