Snowflakes Carry Schools' Support to Newtown

'The Snowflake Project' is happening nationwide.

Friday, as it rained, Westborough students created snowflakes.

Today, those snowflakes head to Newtown, Conn., as part of the Connecticut PTSA’s “The Snowflake Project,” a show of support for that community following the recent shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The snowflakes will cover the walls of the building where Sandy Hook students will attend, “to make it welcoming and like an elementary school,” Mill Pond School Principal Reene Hatherley said Friday.

Hatherley said her daughter-in-law, a Newtown resident, will deliver the snowflakes made by Westborough students. Westborough School Superintendent Marianne O’Connor told the school committee this past Wednesday night that all of Westborough’s Kindergarten to grade three schools participated in the project as well.

“One of the teachers is actually connecting it to a math lesson,” Hatherley said.

 “It’s kind of geometric. If you fold the square, you can fold it into quarters. You can fold it into eighths. And then they make the cuts on the snowflake. That was a great idea, to connect it to an academic project as well. A little bit of learning along with caring, which is great. Because that’s our motto: learning and caring.”

Hatherley said she first heard about the effort from Mill Pond sixth-grade teacher Jessica White.

“One of her old friends is friends with a teacher in Newtown,” Hatherley said.

“She sent out a note to people that she knew, spreading the word that they were looking for people to make snowflakes because they’re going to decorate that school in Monroe, the vacant middle school. What they want to do is cover all the walls with snowflakes, to make it welcoming and like an elementary school, because middle schools tend to look different from elementary schools.”

White shared this news with Hatherley, “and that very night, my daughter-in-law told me about it as well. I told her we had already heard about it, and that we were definitely going to do it.”

Hatherley said she then e-mailed her staff, inviting participation.

Much of the school participated, and “I’m hoping we’re going to fill that box,” Hatherley said.

“I know there are some teachers today that e-mailed me and said they were going to do it during language arts class because it’s the day before the holiday, and they thought it was a nice activity,” she said.

Mill Pond fourth-grade teacher April Knights said her students were “very excited” when they made snowflakes this past Wednesday.

“We talked about 'When something tragic happens, what do we do?' We send good thoughts. Sometimes, we send cards. And we do something nice,” Knights said.

“Because of Reene’s mentioning of 'looking for the people that are helpful', we wanted to be the group that was helpful.”

Knights said she hopes the Newtown community members "know that they're in our thoughts and in our prayers."

Hatherley said Mill Pond’s approach to Newtown has “been sensitive, because we’re trying not to depress the kids or frighten the kids and keep the message serious, but at the same time as positive as it can be.”

The school observed the national moment of silence for the Newtown victims at 9:30 a.m. Friday, she said.

“I would say that more than two-thirds of our school was in the auditorium for a band concert, and we did it at the conclusion of the concert. One of the students in the band, on the triangle, did 26 taps on the triangle,” Hatherley said.

“The kids were great. They absolutely listened.”


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