Incidents like the school shootings in Connecticut leave us with heavy hearts, especially this close to the holidays. Everyone has different ways of coping with the tragedy, and around the area, many people are finding ways to honor and remember those from Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The staff of Upshur County Public Library decided to answer a call from the National PTA by spearheading a snowflake campaign. Employees cut out many snowflakes that others can personalize before they are mailed to Newtown, Conn.
The National PTA and Connecticut PTSA want Sandy Hook Elementary students to be welcomed back to school with a winter wonderland. Their idea is to decorate the entire school with as many snowflakes as possible. They invite participation from around the nation.
Upshur County Public Library Director Patricia Tolliver said the staff decided to take on the project.
"We want to invite area residents to stop by the library and decorate and write notes to the students on the snowflakes," Tolliver said. "They will be mailed to Connecticut to hang up in the new Sandy Hook Elementary School building. People who want to make snowflakes and drop them off at the library are also welcome to participate."
Tolliver said each of the snowflakes are unique.
"We have snowflakes that people have decorated with letters, notes and stickers," Tolliver said. "Each snowflake is 8 inches by 8 inches."
The Upshur County Public Library is open Mondays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays the library is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays the library is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Because of the holidays, the library will be closed Dec. 24, 25, 26, 31 and Jan. 1.
"Please have all snowflakes to the library by Jan. 5 so they can be mailed," said Tolliver.
Additional information about the snowflake project is available by calling 304-473-4219. The Upshur County Public Library is located at Route 6, Box 480 near Tennerton.
At Buckhannon-Upshur High School, April Ramsey Boyce's senior college and career-ready classes made cards to send to Newtown, Conn.
"On Friday, I was on a field trip with my kids at The Inter-Mountain and didn't learn about the shooting until we made it back to Buckhannon," Boyce said. "I came home to my own kids and thought about those other parents waiting to hear the news of their children. I was checking Facebook and saw where a colleague in the Eastern Panhandle was asking prayers for her fiance's cousins - they were students at Sandy Hook Elementary School."
"I sent out a direct Twitter message to my students asking them about making cards (another colleague in Charleston was making cards and asked for others to do the same)," Boyce said. "The response from the students who follow me was a unanimous yes. I packed up my card making supplies, stamps, papers and glue sticks and changed my lesson plan."
Boyce said the class discussed school safety, arming teachers and how it feels to live in a community where so many young people have died. The students said they felt a connection to Newtown because they knew what it was like to bury friends and classmates.
"The cards the students made were thoughtful, rife with passages from the Bible and promises of prayer and a time of when sorrow isn't the first emotion. My husband mailed 148 cards in a box this morning. I can only hope that they bring a measure of peace and comfort to a community that has been rocked to their very core."
In Tucker County, Crystal Nelson made ribbons in remembrance of the kids and staff who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The children in Mrs. Stout's second-grade class at Tucker Valley Elementary School wore the ribbons during the school's Christmas party.
"I made the ribbons for my son Nick's class," Nelson said. "It makes me feel better knowing when I can't protect my child and when he is at school, that he is with someone who can."
Nelson said her son's teacher went over what to do if an incident like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School would ever happen at their school.
"When Nick came home Monday from school, he told me step by step what his teacher went over with them," Nelson said. "It made me feel so much better knowing that his teacher took the time to go over this with them. His teacher keeps her door locked all the time so when you go to his class, you have to knock. No one gets through the door unless approved by her and she always looks out window to make sure on who it is before she opens it."