Sandy Hook to open new school four years after massacre

The sign for the new Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
The sign for the new Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Nearly four years after suffering one of the worst mass shootings in America, an elementary school in Connecticut will re-open in a brand-new, high-tech building this autumn.

The old Sandy Hook Elementary School was demolished in 2013 after a crazed gunman fatally shot 20 children and six educators in December 2010 in just five minutes before killing himself.

The new Sandy Hook School, which will feature heavy-duty windows and sophisticated video surveillance, was built with a US$50 million (S$67 million) grant from the state of Connecticut in the small leafy town of Newtown, two and a half hours by car north-east of New York City.

The school will open quietly in September after the summer holidays, although local media were taken on a guided tour on Friday.

"Despite its birth from a horrible tragedy, Sandy Hook School will be a place full of laughter, love, and learning," Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra said.

Built on the old site, the new school has a completely different layout designed to make maximum use of the surrounding nature.

"We're asking everyone to give us the space we need to focus entirely on teaching and learning when we return for our first day of school," Superintendent Joseph Erardi, the town's top school official, said.

The new premises will be able to welcome 464 pupils and up to another 84 children in a half-day, pre-kindergarten programme.

The Sandy Hook massacre prompted President Barack Obama to launch an unsuccessful drive to tighten US gun laws, after which he assailed the Republican-controlled Congress for blocking reforms that would have toughened background checks on gun buyers.