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Manteca youth make snowflakes for Sandy Hook students

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Manteca youth make snowflakes for Sandy Hook students

Gabriel Italiano, Angelina Durazo, Amalio Durazo and Daniel Italiano show a variety of the snowflakes that their Native American education class crafted for the students of Sandy Hook Elementary.

JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin


POSTED January 5, 2013 12:36 a.m.

Gabriel Italiano didn’t want the kids of Sandy Hook Elementary to be scared to go to school anymore.

So with a handful of his Native American Education classmates Italiano spent a portion of his winter break handcrafting snowflake ornaments to send to the new school that the students would be attending when they finally returned.

It was a small gesture. It was a simple gesture. But it was one that Italiano was glad that he could share with those on the other side of the country during such a difficult time.

“I felt sorry for the kids,” he said. “It’s good to know that we did something.”

As participants of Manteca Unified’s Title VII program – a Native American education class held at Stella Brockman Elementary comprised of students from kindergarten through high school – the students spent two hours on campus Thursday hand-beading snowflakes that were sent back to North Carolina to eventually be sent on to the new Sandy Hook Elementary in Monroe, Connecticut.

The original campus remains an active crime scene, so school officials did the next best thing to try and move on from the senseless tragedy of Dec. 14 – the day that Adam Lana broke his way through the front door of the tight-knit school and killed 20 students, six adults and himself with a semi-automatic assault rifle.

They recreated the classrooms exactly how they found them. Desks were moved to the same place. Backpacks and lunchboxes and jackets and pencils and anything that was left behind in the chaos that ensued after the shooting were gathered up and transported to what was formerly Chalk Hill School and laid out to create some semblance of normalcy for the students subjected to the horrors of that shocking day.

And for Linda Voorheis – the Title VII educator – knowing that the handmade snowflakes of her students will be a part of that transition doubled as a way to offer support while at the same time finding therapeutic closure.

“They loved doing this – it fostered not only a sense of community but helped them deal with the feeling that they had about the whole incident,” she said. “It’s not something that kids deal with on a regular basis.”

Any additional snowflakes – as well as those that served their purpose in decorating the school – will likely be auctioned off by the Sandy Hook Parent Teacher Association for the creation of a scholarship fund.

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