When news broke about a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday morning, Avon Public Schools students were already home following a previously scheduled early dismissal due to staff professional development training.
Connecticut State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance told reporters at a press conference Friday afternoon in Newtown that 20 children, six adults and the shooter are dead as a result of the tragedy, as well as another at a second crime scene. One more person was injured, he said.
Superintendent Gary Mala released a letter to the community about the shooting, which is posted on the school website and was shared with Avon Patch. He said he briefed town offficials on his statement, including Town Manager Brandon Robertson, Avon police and Emergency Management Director James DiPace. The statement was also released to anyone subcribed to the town website's news notification system.
Mala wrote in an email to Patch that he also met with school administrators and instructed them to "address the matter with staff after I briefed them on what the district response would be."
Roaring Brook School Principal Crisanne Colgan learned of the shooting from the school's assistant principal and the Central office.
"What a sad day for all of us," Colgan said. "We met with our staff this afternoon after the training sessions, and we will be meeting again on Monday morning before school..... Prayers and thoughts for the victims and their families."
Avon Congregational Church is also opening from 6 to 8 p.m. for "quiet meditation and prayer" and "all are welcome," according to Beth Ferrari, interim administrator at the church.
A live nativity previously scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Church of Saint Ann in Avon for Friday night will be dedicated to the "children of Newtown," according to Susan Reitano Davey, a member of the church who organized the Christmas pageant.
"So tragic; I can't wrap my arms around it," Reitano Davey wrote in an email to Patch.
What questions do you have in the wake of the Newtown elementary school shooting? Will you tell your children about the tragedy and what will you tell them?