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New Sandy Hook Elementary school opens to students 4 years after tragedy

NEWTOWN  — About 400 students have returned to Sandy Hook Elementary School for the first time since a shooting tragedy killed 20 first-graders and six educators.

A new 86,000-square-foot school opened Monday in Newtown, Connecticut. It replaces the one torn down after the 2012 shooting.

In July, media and residents got a first look at the $50 million school that was built to replace the original building.  The replacement was built on the same property but not in the old footprint.

It includes a gated driveway, state-of-the art video monitoring and bulletproof windows and doors. Two police officers will be stationed there.

About 70 current Sandy Hook students attended the old school when the shooting occurred. School officials say about 35 of them were in the building at the time, but none witnessed the shootings. Those students are now fourth-graders.

After the shooting, the students were sent to a school in neighboring Monroe.

First Selectman Pat Llodra said during a press conference in the new building that she expects students to be upset and anxious in the new school, but also excited.

“Our role now, as adults and leaders, is to bring this new, beautiful place into its rightful status as the SHS of the present and the future. Despite its birth from a horrible tragedy, SHS will be a place full of laughter, love, and learning,” she said.

Llodra added that while the new school is exciting, everyone "would trade in a minute this beautiful new school for the more familiar and aged sandy hook school, built in the 50s, if we could just change the past."