Sandy Hook's Surviving First-Graders Are Graduating

It's a 'bitterwsweet moment,' says one of the high school seniors
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2024 6:15 AM CDT
For Sandy Hook Survivors, a 'Bittersweet' Milestone
Survivors of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting share their thoughts on high school graduation before a rally against gun violence on Friday, June 7, 2024 in Newtown, Conn.   (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

Wednesday's graduating class of students at Newtown High School in Connecticut will have 330 students. It should have been 350, however, and some of the focus will be on those missing 20—the young victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre of 2012. The slain first-graders and the six educators killed that day will be honored at the graduation. In the meantime, outlets are speaking with the approximately 60 students who were Sandy Hook first-graders that day and survived.

  • "Graduation is a really big milestone in our lives," 18-year-old Grace Fischer tells the Hartford Courant. But "walking across that stage will be a really bittersweet moment." She remembers being escorted to a firehouse after the shooting. "We had to line up by grade and that's when my teacher was like, this is really not OK," she recalls. "Because when we lined up by grade, half our grade was missing."

  • "A guy—armed—came into my classroom and started shooting all of my friends and my teachers and my classmates," Emma Ehrens, 17, recalls to CNN. "His gun jammed and a friend of mine, Jesse Lewis, yelled at us to run and that's what we did." Jesse, who was 6, was killed.
  • "I think we're all super excited for the day," says Lilly Wasilnak, 17, per the AP. She was in a classroom down the hall from where her friends were killed. "But I think we can't forget ... that there is a whole chunk of our class missing. And so going into graduation, we all have very mixed emotions—trying to be excited for ourselves and this accomplishment that we've worked so hard for, but also those who aren't able to share it with us, who should have been able to."
(More Sandy Hook Elementary School stories.)

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