Newtown massacre felt in Sonoma County schools

  • The flag is flown at half staff at Monroe Elementary School in Santa Rosa in honor of the victims of the tragedy in Newtown, CT, on Monday, December 17, 2012.

    (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

The shadow of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre lay in varying degrees across Sonoma County classrooms on Monday but touched most heavily on parents and school staff, local educators said.

"I think it's hitting adults much harder than our kids," said Patricia McCaffrey, principal of Hidden Valley Elementary School in Santa Rosa.

"All of them think of their own children, think of the children they're responsible for," she said.

Signs of the tragedy's ripples were evident at school districts around the county. Flags were lowered to half-staff, following President Barack Obama's order. More counselors were made available. Moments of silence were held at some schools.

At the Sebastopol Charter School, parents met in the morning to discuss security and safety procedures, and several volunteered for the emergency committee, Executive Director Susan Olson said.

But, probably because the Waldorf school encourages a media-free education, many students seemed unaware of the slaughter in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 first-graders and seven adults Friday before committing suicide.

"We expected there to be a fair amount of conversation and there has not been," Olson said.

At Monroe Elementary School in Santa Rosa, about 20 parents attended an after-school meeting that also focused on emergency drills. Prior to that, the day passed with little mention of the tragedy, Principal Rachel Valenzuela said.

"The emphasis has been on keeping it a really normal, routine day," Valenzuela said.

Elsewhere, some school officials chose to directly address Friday's tragedy, or at least some of the practical questions it raised.

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