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‘My Mom Grabbed Me and Held Me as Tight as She Could:’ Kids React to Newtown

December 21, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
As young people across the country began to mourn and process the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., the NewsHour asked students from the 45 schools participating in its Student Reporting Labs to talk with their classmates about their initial reactions. Here are some of their stories.
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JEFFREY BROWN: And we close with the thoughts of young people about what happened in Newtown a week ago today.

The NewsHour asked students from the 45 schools participating in our network of student reporting labs to talk with classmates about their initial reactions.

Here are some of those interviews.

SHARONDA CLARK, Free Spirit Media, Illinois: When I went home and watched the news, and I found out it was true, it upset me a lot. I was really shocked and felt kind of heartbroken, because I don’t feel any 6-year-olds and 7-year-olds should have to enduring something like that.

JOSEPH ROUNDTREE, Granby High School, Virginia: Well, when turned to the channels, we saw the news about a shooting. And when we saw it, we were surprised, because it was an elementary school. And we were sad and upset because it happened to all them little children that didn’t even get to experience life yet.

JACQUELINE MEARS, Magnolia High School, Texas: Just somber kind of feelings all over the classroom. And we just thought about it. And I just — I was, like, thinking about the little kids and how scared I would have been if I had been in that situation, even as a teenager. And I was just sad for them.

ROGER MCLAUGHLIN, Richwood High School, West Virginia: Being an uncle, I have a 2-year-old nephew running around. And he’s my life. So, when I think about, you know, young children and how much they could mean to their parents or their peers, it — it breaks my heart.

ELITZA BATCHIYSKA, Daniel Pearl Magnet High School, California: She’s looking through it, and she sees this story. And I remember she tells me. And the first thing that hit me was disbelief. At that moment, I just remember that my mom grabbed me and she hugged me as tight as she could. And we just kind of shared this moment and just took it all in.

CASEY PARAJON, Fort Mill High School, South Carolina: It wasn’t until I got home when I heard the full story. And I was — as I was reading the story, I immediately thought of the first grade class I interned with and just how anyone could possibly do that.

KAILEY BENNETT, Richwood High school, West Virginia: I can’t imagine, you know, having a kid of my own day and just something like this happening. You don’t think it can ever happen to anybody. You don’t think that you could lose a kid at school. It seems like one of the safest places they could be. It seems safer than the street, you know?

But I can’t imagine after this confidently sending a child to a grade school and this not being in the back of your mind.

BEN HUDSON, Magnolia High School, Texas: My perception hasn’t really changed on that school being a safe place. It’s just the same way you hear about a plane crash and you are scared to go on a plane. Planes are still the safest way of transportation. My principal said that schools are the most safe place for a student to be.

DANIELLE GORNICK, Sentinel High School, Montana: I talked to my mom about it. She’s a first grade teacher at a local elementary school here.

And she was just talking about how her class motto is — she asks her kids, “What’s my number one job? and they all answer, “To keep us safe.”

And she was just saying how, as a teacher, that’s you what want to do. You just want to help your kids. You want to protect them. You want to make sure that they’re safe from these kind of things. But she just kept saying how her body couldn’t possibly cover all 25 of the kids in her class.

COLIN QUINN, Fort Mill High School, South Carolina: Everyone else that is alive, it is our job to either make our lives better because they don’t get to take their lives, or we have to help the ones around there to make their families and their friends have a better life, because they won’t get to spend it with those little kids and the teachers and the faculty.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You can find all of the student videos online.