Clarksburg Gathers for Vigil to Honor Sandy Hook Victims
The small town of Clarksburg expressed its sympathy and shared grief with the Newtown, Conn., with an hourlong vigil on Monday. Left, Krista Chilson sets her candle at the memorial.
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Cynthia Schock felt the need to express her feelings about Friday's shooting in Connecticut.
Dozens of her townsmen felt the same.
More than 75 Clarksburg residents — from young to old to in-between — silently gathered in a circle around the Veterans Memorial stone at the Town Field on Monday evening. They quietly paused for nearly an hour, their breaths curling in the cold air above candles.
"I was moved by the whole thing and I called North Adams to see if they were doing something," said Schock, who has a son at Clarksburg School. "Whatever it was I felt there needed to be, I needed to acknowledge it on a larger level than just talking to my family."
The killings of 20 first-graders and six teachers and principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., has struck a chord around the nation with expressions of grief and fear that the same tragedy could happen anywhere.
"It's just the tragedy," said Krista Chilson, who attended with Joe Champney and three youngsters, one of whom, Landon, 8, attends Clarksburg School. "I have children so I can relate. It's scary it hits home, even though it's not home."
Schock had reached out to a fellow native of the Naugatuck River Valley in Connecticut, Town Clerk Carol Jammalo, and to Town Administrator Thomas Webb to help get out information about the vigil. Jammalo penned the names of the victims "in loving memory" on a card that was placed at the veterans' stone.
Schock called it our "rock of solidarity" and invited vigilers at the end to light the stone and card with their candles. They quietly took turns setting the candles in pint-size milk cartons saved from the cafeteria.
"They've got frozen toes but they're troopers," said Chilson after she and Champney helped the youngsters with their candles.
Principal Linda Reardon said the older students at the school connected over the weekend and spread the word to wear blue in mourning on Monday. Because the tragedy had occurred on Friday, there had not been discussion on what the school community might do to recognize what happened, she said.
But the principal wasn't sure what more the school can do to keep its students safe.
"We work all the time on school safety," said Reardon, adding that policies will be reviewed once again. "Something like this, how do you react to something like this?"
Selectman Carl McKinney said the school had done a commendable job in terms of safety and security, but he and Webb want to meet with school administrators to see if anything more can be done.
"What do you do? Put bars over the windows so they can't get in even if they break the windows?" said McKinney, who believed an assault weapons ban or ammunition regulation is needed. "What's the answer? I don't know but it's a discussion I want to have because children are the most valuable asset we have."
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