BEE CAVE, Texas (AP) — Students at Bee Cave Elementary School recently lent a little holiday cheer to students at Sandy Hook Elementary.
The Snowflake Project, an initiative started by the Connecticut Parent Teacher Student Association, requested that students across the country create and decorate snowflakes to deck the halls of the new Sandy Hook Elementary School. The Connecticut PTSA hoped that students of the former Sandy Hook Elementary — now shrouded in tragedy after the shooting last year — will feel more welcomed into their new school by the cheery decorations.
Once Bee Cave Elementary principal Janie Braxdale heard about the project, she emailed her teachers, giving them the option to participate.
"Some teachers were looking for something for their kids to do on the last day of school, and a lot of teachers wanted to do something to show they care," Braxdale said.
Participating classrooms cut white paper into snowflakes and glued tissue paper onto them. Braxdale said the younger students made snowflakes out of pipe cleaners and Popsicle sticks, though many of the first-graders thought the project was just for fun.
"I think with the younger kids, the teachers tried to be a little more protective of it," she said.
Fourth-grade teacher McKenzie Childress said the older students in her two classes knew why they were making snowflakes.
"They all had some idea that something bad happened," Childress said of the days following the tragedy in Sandy Hook. She added that she had a few discussions with her students in which she quashed rumors and eased their concerns about their safety.
"Some felt sad; some felt confused," Childress said. "They were all very overwhelmed."
She said making the snowflakes helped her students get past the events of Sandy Hook.
"They were asking me things like, 'Are they going to go in a classroom? Are they going to go in the hallway?'" she said. "They were enjoying getting to send stuff to other students and putting work into something."
Fourth grader Jillian Glubke, 10, said she had a hard time sleeping for a few nights after the tragedy. "Really I was kind of shocked and sad and mad."
Jillian said she and her classmates made two snowflakes each.
"That way, the kids that went through that feel loved after what happened," she said.
Jillian's classmate Riley Henry, 10, has become much more conscious of safety procedures.
"I'm always looking down hallways and stuff," Riley said, "and we're not allowed to open doors to people."
The snowflakes were gathered in the principal's office, and Braxdale boxed them up and mailed them earlier this month. Other Lake Travis elementary schools also created snowflakes.
Riley said she hoped that the snowflakes she made helped the new Sandy Hook Elementary look nice so the students "feel better, and so they feel like they've been cared for and we're with them."