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Avon High School Students Make Snowflakes for Newtown

The snowflakes will be sent to Sandy Hook Elementary School's temporary Monroe location.

There is no snow in the forecast so far this week, but the snowflakes keep coming for Newtown.

Avon High School sophomores and juniors join many schools who are making paper snowflakes to hang in the Sandy Hook Elementary School's temporary location at a former Monroe school.

Griffin said that it's hard to understand what happened at the Newtown elementary school on Dec. 14 when 20 children and six educators were killed in a shooting massacre.

"We were trying to think of things we could do to help Newtown," Stephen Griffin, junior class treasurer, said Monday on the students' first day of the project. "We heard of people making snowflakes and wanted to get the high school involved."

As students, Griffin said the high school community is also affected by the tragedy as new security measures are implemented. Superintendent Gary Mala outlined the recommendations for increased security at district schools in a letter to the community on Jan. 1. Many have already been implemented, such as an added sign-in desk by the main entrance of Avon High School.

High school staff or students who needed someone to talk to after the Newtown tragedy were referred to the guidance department. Guidance counselors Cara Boland and Diane Lieberfarb are advisiors for the snowflake project.

"What I like about this is that it's very community-minded and therapeutic for our students to take part in the grief process," Lieberfarb said.

Avon educators donated money to go toward outfitting the temporary Sandy Hook school.

Lieberfarb said that the students also "have a need to do something." In addition to the snowflake project, the school also has started a Random Acts of Kindness board in the wake of the tragedy. The girls basketball players each dedicated their game Dec. 21 to a different Sandy Hook victim and wore T-shirts honoring them.

"I think even the people of Newtown had no idea the outpouring (of support) would be as much as it has been," Lieberfarb said.

Lieberfarb said that it's difficult "for any of us as human beings to wrap our arms around and understand such a horrific event."

She, like other district educators, was in professional development training on Dec. 14 when former principal Jason Beaudin briefed staff about the tragedy. Many had already heard, but did not know the details or about the rising numbers of the death toll, she said.

"It was between shock and a sense of disbelieve, I think, more than anything else," Lieberfarb said.

By that point, students were already home with their families due to the pre-scheduled early dismissal. That gave them a weekend to process it with their families, Lieberfarb said, and she did not have many students come to see her for counseling the next week.

"Our parents are very savy in Avon, so [students] had a good support system over the weekend," Lieberfarb said.

When counseling someone dealing with grief, Lieberfarb said that counselors first let them "reflect on it." A sense of helplessness after tragedy "goes beyond age and experience," she said.

"It's an opportunity to direct efforts, whether it's politically, spiritually or emotionally in the positive direction," Lieberfarb said.

She added that it's important that the students know they have a place where concerned adults "validate" their feelings and give them the opportunity to be heard.

Snowflakes for Newtown will last until Friday. Students can cut out snowflakes at a table outside the cafeteria during lunch hours between 10:37 a.m. at 12:30 p.m.

Jane Paquet January 08, 2013 at 09:00 PM
After such a tragic and sad event, all the out-pouring of support for Newtown has helped restore my faith in humanity. The snowflakes are beautiful and such a loving gesture!
POODETWA January 14, 2013 at 12:50 AM
THIS IS WONDERFUL.

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