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Local educators react to Conn. shooting, prepare for students' questions

  • Gary Seri, general manager at the Stone River Grille, hangs a message written on a table cloth in honor of the teachers who died along with students a day earlier when a gunman open fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn. Seri, who put up red balloons that were not used when a sweet 16 party was canceled the night before in light of the massacre, said the teachers were scheduled to have their holiday party at his restaurant. The massacre of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school elicited horror and soul-searching around the world even as it raised more basic questions about why the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, would have been driven to such a crime and how he chose his victims. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Students in Sonoma County were already in class by the time news broke Friday about the horrific school tragedy in Connecticut, making them largely unaware of the events on the East Coast.

"Most probably haven't heard about it," Santa Rosa High School secretary Marlene Callen said Friday afternoon, adding she was unaware of any classroom discussions about the mass shooting.

"We tend not to broadcast those things," she said.

Connecticut School Shooting

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In Petaluma, McKinley Elementary School received several phone calls from parents expressing shock at the shooting.

"They just needed to talk to us, to know everything's fine here and the kids are fine," said Diana Cannon, a senior school secretary.

Petaluma city schools decided not to announce the news to students.

"I'm a parent too. That's how I would want it handled," she said. "Had it happened yesterday afternoon, there would have been some discussion around it. We didn't want to create a sense of panic."

Petaluma school officials said some high school students likely learned about the tragic event through their cellphones or mobile devices and there may have been some discussion in classrooms.

But "our decision was this was news best shared by family members and filtered in an age-appropriate way," said Dave Rose, director of student services.

By Friday evening, however, the Petaluma City School District was sending an automated phone message to as many as 6,000 households letting them know counselors will be available Monday for students who need assistance.


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