■ New­town, Conn., pub­lic schools ex­cept for Sandy Hook re­open,

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By David Klep­per and Michael Melia JA­SON DECROW / AP

NEW­TOWN, CONN. — With se­cu­rity stepped up and fam­i­lies still on edge in New­town, stu­dents be­gan re­turn­ing to school Tues­day for the first time since last week’s mas­sacre, bring­ing a re­turn of fa­mil­iar rou­tines, at least, for some, to a grief­stricken town as it buries 20 of its chil­dren.

A 6-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl were laid to rest Tues­day, the lat­est in a long, al­most un­bear­able pro­ces­sion of fu­ner­als. A to­tal of 26 peo­ple were killed at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary in one of the worst mass shoot­ings in U.S his­tory.

Buses fer­ry­ing stu­dents to schools were fes­tooned with green-and-white rib­bons, the col­ors of Sandy Hook, as classes re­sumed for all New­town schools ex­cept the stricken ele­men­tary school.

The district has made plans to send sur­viv­ing Sandy Hook stu­dents to Chalk Hill, a former mid­dle school in the neigh­bor­ing town of Mon­roe. Sandy Hook desks that will fit the small stu­dents were be­ing taken there, and trades­men were do­nat­ing their ser­vices to get the school ready.

With Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary still des­ig­nated a crime scene, state po­lice Lt. Paul Vance said it could be months be­fore po­lice turn the school back over to the district.

At New­town High School, stu­dents in sweat shirts and jack­ets, many wear­ing head­phones, be­trayed mixed emo­tions. Some waved at or snapped pho­tos of the as­sem­bled me­dia horde, and oth­ers ap­peared shaken.

“There’s go­ing to be no joy in school,” said 17-year-old se­nior P.J. Hickey. “It really doesn’t feel like Christ­mas any­more.”

At St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in New- town, back-to-back fu­ner­als were held for first-graders James Mat­ti­oli and Jes­sica Rekos, the first of eight to be held in the coming days at the church.

As mourn­ers gath­ered out­side, a mo­tor­cade led by po­lice mo­tor­cy­cles ar­rived for the funeral of lit­tle James, who es­pe­cially loved re­cess and math, and whose fam­ily de­scribed as a “num­bers guy” who couldn’t wait un­til he was old enough to or­der a foot­long Sub­way sand­wich.

The ser­vice had not yet con­cluded when mourn­ers be­gan ar­riv­ing for the funeral of Jes­sica, who loved horses and was count­ing the years un­til she turned 10, when her fam­ily had promised her a horse of her own. For Christ­mas, she had asked Santa for new cow­girl boots and hat.

“We are dev­as­tated, and our hearts are with the other fam­i­lies who are griev­ing as we are,” her par­ents, Rich and Krista Rekos, said in a state­ment.

Traf­fic in front of the church slowed to a crawl as po­lice di­rected ve­hi­cles into the church park­ing lot. At one point a school bus car­ry­ing ele­men­tary stu­dents be­came stuck in traf­fic. The chil­dren pressed their faces into the win­dows, sadly watch­ing as mourn­ers as­sem­bled at the church.

At the high school, stu­dents didn’t ex­pect to get much work done Tues­day and spent much of the day talk­ing about the ter­ri­ble events of last week car­ried out by 20-year-old Adam Lanza.

“We’re go­ing to be able to com­fort each other and try and help each other get through this be­cause that’s the only way we’re go­ing to do it. No­body can do this alone,” Hickey said.

Some par­ents kept their chil­dren at home Tues­day, as po­lice and school of­fi­cials planned how and where to in­crease se­cu­rity.

A stu­dent waves as her bus pulls into Haw­ley School Tues­day in New­town, Conn. Classes re­sumed at all pub­lic schools ex­cept for Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary.

GE­NARO MOLINA / MCT

A New­town Mid­dle School fac­ulty mem­ber greets stu­dents Tues­day. Schools re­opened in New­town, Conn., for the first time since the tragedy.

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