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Slain Sandy Hook teacher to be honored with school name

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 15th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In a brave action that perhaps cost her life, 27-year-old Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher Victoria Soto hid her pupils in a closet during the gunman's rampage. Soto will now be honored by having a nearby school named after her.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Stratford Town Council, in nearby Stratford Connecticut voted unanimously to name a new school the Victoria Soto Elementary School. Soto was one of several people to emerge as a hero in the horrific school shooting tragedy that killed 20 first graders and six staff members in Newton last month.

Soto had grown up in Stratford, a coastal town about 22 miles south of Newtown. The school naming is the first permanent public memorial created following the tragedy. Hailed as a hero, police have said some of Soto's first-grade students escaped the massacre because she hid them in a closet as the gunman approached.

"She is my big sister, and this doesn't surprise me in any way that she was a hero in this tragedy," her younger sister Jillian Soto said after the town council vote.

Newton residents have begun debating what should be done with the Sandy Hook school. The facility remains closed to everyone but police. It will be months before a final decision is made, according to city officials.

Newton residents have suggested razing the school for a memorial, converting it to a planetarium and basing a peace center there.

Parents of Sandy Hook's pupils, currently attending classes at a converted middle school in the neighboring town of Monroe, were divided on whether their children should ever return to the Sandy Hook building.

Authorities have yet to formulate a motive behind 20-year-old Adam Lanza's attack. Described by family friends as having Asperger's syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, killed his mother, Nancy Lanza at the home they shared about five miles from the school before the deadly rampage. Lanza took his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Newtown, a New England town of 27,000 residents about 70 miles northeast of New York City was plunged into mourning, as well as becoming the focus on the complex problem of gun control in the United States.

The shootings prompted President Barack Obama to place Vice President Joe Biden at the head of a task force that will recommend ways to curb gun violence. Lawmakers in New York State are expected to pass the first new gun control law in the country since the shooting.

A group of relatives and neighbors of the victims launched an initiative, called Sandy Hook Promise, to work toward ending gun violence in America.

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