Aimee Tabor's son was at Sandy Hook Elementary School Dec. 14, when a gunman broke in and took the lives of 20 students and six staff members.
But the youngster wants to return to his school, and can't see it being turned into something else, Tabor says.
"I look at how much that savage took that day. He took teachers, children, their innocence, their childhood. I don't want him to take their school," Tabor said at a forum Sunday afternoon at the Newtown High School auditorium.
But Alan Brown says he's not sure his granddaughter should return to that building, suggesting that nearby Treadwell Park become home to a future elementary school for Sandy Hook kids.
"Please be sensitive. Don't take the high road and say, 'We must stand strong and not let him win.' It's not about winning. It isn't. It's about doing what is right for our children, for my granddaughter," Brown said.
In what was the first of many meetings on the subject, residents offered a wide array of opinions and ideas on what to do with Sandy Hook students and their school
First Selectwoman Patricia Llodra told the hundreds in attendance that developing a plan for the school community will take several months. A handout at the meeting said a decision could be made as soon as spring.
Though another community meeting on the same topic is planned for 7 p.m. Friday at the high school, the town will also meet privately with affected families and Sandy Hook teachers.
Some residents suggested the school be turned into a senior center, a peace education school, a children's planetarium or a memorial park and garden. Others insisted it must remain the Sandy Hook area school.
Most who spoke agreed on a few things: Sandy Hook children should not be split up if or when they are moved from their temporary space at Chalk Hill Middle School in Monroe; feelings of shooting victims' families should be a priority in any decision; and Sandy Hook students need to return to a Newtown location.
Newtown High School senior Mergim Bajraliu, 17, offered an impassioned speech about keeping Sandy Hook as a school, demolishing the scarred hallway and classrooms that are now a crime scene, and renovating the building. His fourth-grade sister was there the day of the shootings.
The Sandy Hook alumnus said he understands that some parents may be against sending their children back to the school, and suggested no one return until this year's kindergartners finish their elementary school grades at Chalk Hill.
"I don't believe one psychopath, who I refuse to name, should be able to ruin this for us," said Bajraliu, wearing a "We Are Newtown" shirt.
"He might have gotten away with taking away 26 angels, but he should not get away with taking away our school.
"There's no better way to memorialize these angels and show our strength as a community than to keep the Sandy Hook legacy alive for years to come."
A few parents, including one who nearly broke down in tears, said they would never send their children back to the school.
One said that if they do return, Sandy Hook children should have the option of attending another district facility.
Several parents shared their children's thoughts on the matter, with many saying the kids miss Sandy Hook.
However, Tricia Goglie said her son wants it to become "a store or a fun place, but not a school anymore."
Many said it's too soon after the Dec. 14 shootings to have an opinion either way, and another questioned how a proposal can be created if Newtown doesn't know what funding is available for any future project.
Llodra said state leaders have recommended that Newtown first figure out what's best for the community and then look for ways to fund any plan.
"We are committed to having as many of these conversations as needed to ensure everyone has some time to speak and to process what lies ahead.
"This is very difficult. I know that asking you to embark on this journey of decision-making at a time when each of us is still struggling with our own grief, our uncertainty, our confusion, and even some anger, is almost too much to bear," she said.
"We need to find a way to bring our Sandy Hook students home."
On Monday, the grassroots group Sandy Hook Promise invited victims' family members to a news conference where an initiative to prevent similar tragedies was to be unveiled..
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