Schools across central Pennsylvania observed a moment of silence Friday to remember the victims of a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
Sandy Hook Elementary School is 225 miles from Henry Houck Elementary School in Lebanon, but despite the distance teachers and students felt a connection to the school and found ways to show their support.
Outside of Henry Houck, the American flag flew at half-staff in honor of the shooting victims and their families. Inside, students and teachers took a break from their holiday assembly for a moment of silence and remembrance.
“May I have your attention, please,” an announcement came over the loudspeaker. “This announcement is for our entire Henry Houck family. At this time, we are going to have a moment of silence in honor of last week's Connecticut victims and their families.”
Teachers and students closed their eyes and bowed their heads. Kindergarten teacher Jessica Ashworth was particularly moved and was unable to hold back her tears.
“I'm really glad that we did take the time for that moment of silence,” Ashworth said. “I know that my kindergartners didn't really grasp the concept of it.”
But Ashworth did.
“Children the age of my students were killed. It's just sad,” Ashworth said, choking back tears. “You should always be thankful for what you have. Even when something terrible doesn't happen, you should always be thankful every single day.”
That is why Ashworth and her students are working on a couple of Sandy Hook projects.
“They're (Sandy Hook Elementary) doing winter wonderland for the students' return, so a lot of schools are having their students make snowflakes that we're sending for them to hang up,” Ashworth said. “I got a canvas and we're painting a heart on it and we're putting 26 hand prints with all the victims' names next to it.”
Ashworth will make the trip to Newtown next month to deliver the canvas and snowflakes.