Sandy Hook Students Return to Classes at New School on Thursday

01/02/2013 at 11:05 AM EST

Sandy Hook Students Return to Classes Thursday
A welcome sign greets students outside of Chalk Hill Middle School
Lucas Jackson/Landov
When Sandy Hook students return to a new school on Thursday, they will find their setting looking nearly exactly like their previous classrooms, right down to the pictures on the walls.

Before the move, some teachers even took photos of their old classrooms at Sandy Hook to better prepare their new classrooms and offer frightened and traumatized students some comfort as they try to get back to normal after the Dec. 14 shootings that left 27 people dead, including their beloved principal Dawn Hochsprung, ABC News reports.

Not only have the rooms been recreated but security has been revamped at the Chalk Hill school, located about six miles away in nearby Monroe, Conn., making the new building what one Newtown councilman says is "the safest school in America."





A home across the street from Chalk Hill also has a large banner attached to its white picket fence. It reads, "Welcome Sandy Hook Elementary!"

Over the last two weeks, workers there have even torn out bathrooms in the former middle school to make them size-friendly to the new elementary students from Sandy Hook. The construction is a part of efforts in the small community to return to some sense of normalcy after the shooting, which has prompted promises from President Barack Obama to toughen gun control laws.

The students will be greeted by another familiar face on Thursday: Sandy Hook's previous principal Donna Page, who retired in 2010 but will return to lead the school on an interim basis.

"I want parents and families enduring the loss of their precious children to know their loved ones are foremost in our hearts and minds as we move forward," Page wrote in a letter to parents. "Your strength and compassion has been, and will continue to be, an inspiration to me and countless others as we work to honor the memory of your precious children and our beloved staff."



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