The tragic shooting of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., felt particularly personal to many students and teachers, including fourth-grade teacher Jaime Hunt at Higley Unified School District’s Cortina Elementary School in Queen Creek.
As she thought about the loss of such young children and dedicated educators whose lives were taken on what would have been a typical school day, Hunt said she felt the urge to do something to pay tribute to the victims and offer comfort to the survivors. She sought help from her mother, Darlene Reach, a district office assistant who is also a quilter, to work with her fourth-grade class on a quilt dedicated to Sandy Hook Elementary and the 26 victims.
“We felt it was important to do something for the people who lost their lives that day,” Hunt said. “Hopefully, this quilt will be something the school will hang up in their front office so people will see it every day and remember the children and teachers who died.“
Every victim is honored on the quilt by name with a cutout star decorated by a member of Hunt’s fourth-grade class and her classroom aide, Amy Kaylor. On each star, Mrs. Hunt’s fourth graders drew and painted symbols of childhood and innocence - flowers, teddy bears, hearts, butterflies and even a duckling - to remember the victims.
The primary color of the quilt is forest green in recognition of Sandy Hook Elementary’s school color. A note at the center, authored by district office administrative clerk Ashlyn Hermes, offers a message of comfort to survivors and loved ones: “There are 26 brighter stars shining in Connecticut.”
Fourth grader Shannon O’Malley recalled that as she decorated her star, she thought about the school and the victim for whom she made it – first grader Daniel Barden.
“I was thinking about how it was a regular school, just like ours. And I thought about doing things to help the school remember them,” Shannon said.
Cortina Elementary School Principal Cort Monroe said he is shipping the quilt to Sandy Hook Elementary and hopes it will arrive later this week.
“Making this quilt for Sandy Hook is such a caring gesture. Quilts are a symbol of comfort,” Monroe said. “We hope it helps the families remember their loved ones and shows that people from as far away as Cortina Elementary are thinking of them and wish to ease their grief.”
Story submitted by Higley Unified School District