Sandy Hook task force recommends demolishing, rebuilding school
A task force recommended replacing the Sandy Hook Elementary School building in Newtown, Connecticut.
May 12th, 2013
10:53 PM ET

Sandy Hook task force recommends demolishing, rebuilding school

By Ben Brumfield, CNN

(CNN) - To erase some of the emotional scars left behind from the December shooting massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, an advisory board wants the building torn down and replaced.

The Sandy Hook Task Force voted unanimously late Friday to recommend to the Newtown, Connecticut, board of education to build a new school on the site of the existing building.

Adam Lanza burst into the Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 armed with a semiautomatic Bushmaster .223 caliber rifle and two handguns. He opened fire killing 26 people, 20 of them children, before taking his own life.

Read the full story

Posted by
Filed under: Safety • School buildings
Auburn says goodbye to its oaks
April 23rd, 2013
05:49 PM ET

Auburn University cuts down iconic oaks after poisoning

By Ben Brumfield and Phil Gast, CNN

(CNN) - Two years of rescue efforts could not save them. So, Tuesday, Auburn University cut down two iconic trees that a disappointed fan of its intrastate rival poisoned after his team lost a game to Auburn.

The landmark live oaks, used for celebrations by fans, who rolled them with toilet paper after big victories, were more than 130 years old. On Tuesday, they were coming down branch by branch from the campus gathering place, Toomer's Corner.

Local television news cameras broadcast the removal live.

"While it is sad, it will do nothing to change the spirit of Auburn," Auburn junior Carlee Clark told CNN iReport Tuesday, as the trees came down. "I think I speak for students and alumni alike when I say that I count it a privilege to be a part of this family, and the presence or absence of two trees could never alter that."

In 2010, both the Auburn Tigers and the University of Alabama Crimson Tide football teams were nationally ranked.

On November 26, Auburn, playing at UA in Tuscaloosa for the annual Iron Bowl, came back from a huge deficit to squeak past the Tide by a point, beating its tough sibling 28-27 on its home field.

Man pleads guilty in poisoning of famous Auburn trees

Revenge for a loss

Tide fan Harvey Updyke didn't like losing and did something about it, which he confessed anonymously two months later on a UA sports radio show. He called in as "Al from Dadeville."

"Let me tell you what I did the weekend after the Iron Bowl. I went to Auburn, Alabama, because I live 30 miles away," the caller said. "And I poisoned the two Toomer's trees."

He ended the call with "Roll Damn Tide," a battle cry for the University of Alabama.

Read the full story

Posted by ,
Filed under: College • Rivalries • Sports
April 6th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

No noon meal for kids in debt at middle school

By Ben Brumfield, CNN

(CNN) - Sorry, kid. No money, no lunch.

Students at an Attleboro, Massachusetts, middle school went hungry this week, if they had a negative balance on their pre-paid lunch cards.

Five cents of debt was enough for cafeteria employees at the Coehlo Middle School to instruct kids at least one day this week to dump out the food they would have normally eaten, CNN affiliate WJAR in Rhode Island reported.

About 25 children left the lunchroom with empty stomachs, said Whitson's Culinary Group in a statement. The company runs the school's cafeteria.

Parents were appalled. So was the principal. So was Whitson's.

"I told them this is bullying; that's neglect, child abuse," said parent Jo-An Blanchard.

Principal Andrew Boles apologized and blamed the culinary company. "My expectation is that every child, every adult, every parent, every student, every teacher is respected in this building, and that didn't happen yesterday because of Whitson's," he told WJAR.

Read the full story

Posted by
Filed under: Middle school • Nutrition • School lunch
December 19th, 2012
09:31 AM ET

Connecticut teachers were heroes in the face of death

By Ben Brumfield, CNN

(CNN) - Facing down a gunman, placing yourself in the path of flying bullets, forfeiting your life to protect innocents. It's a job description fitting for a soldier or police officer, but for a school teacher - an elementary school teacher at that?

What the teachers and principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School did for the children in their care could win a soldier in a war zone a Purple Heart.

But the soldier makes a conscious choice to face mortal danger when he or she enlists. Sandy Hook's heroes did not.

Adam Lanza did not give them that choice when he opened fire in the hallway and two classrooms Friday in Newtown, Connecticut.

Long before it happened, Principal Dawn Hochsprung tried to prevent a shooting - or any other calamity - by implementing new security measures at Sandy Hook. She made sure teachers practiced getting into lockdown mode.

The front door was locked when the gunman arrived. A mother meeting with Hochsprung about her struggling child was astounded that the gunman had gotten in: "It's a locked school; you have to be buzzed in," she later said.

Lanza blasted his way in.

Hochsprung heard the loud pop. She, school psychologist Mary Sherlach and Vice Principal Natalie Hammond went to investigate.

They were acting as the first line of protection and paid heavily for it. Only Hammond returned from the hallway alive - but not unscathed.

Along with Hochsprung, 47, and Sherlach, 56, four teachers perished.

Victoria Soto, 27, moved her first-grade students away from the classroom door. The gunman burst in and shot her, according to the father of a surviving student.

"She would not hesitate to think to save anyone else before herself and especially children," her mother, Donna Soto, told CNN's Piers Morgan.

Read the full story

 

Posted by
Filed under: School violence • Teachers