As the funerals of the Sandy Hook victims in Newtown, Connecticut begin to take place this week, many are using the opportunity to thank the heroic staff members of the school who, while sacrificing themselves, took steps to minimize the number of victims of the deadly shooting rampage.
Inspiring stories of heroism are surfacing, from the person who turned on the intercom when confronted by the gunman Adam Lanza in order to alert everyone around the school that trouble was brewing, to the teacher who hid her students in closets and the bathroom and then told Lanza that they were in the gym moments before he shot and killed her. As Yahoo News reports, almost the only bright spots in the horrific day were the decisions made and risks assumed by the school staff in an attempt to keep their kids safe.
District Superintendent Janet Robinson noted "incredible acts of heroism" that "ultimately saved so many lives."
"The teachers were really, really focused on their students," she told reporters Saturday.
Someone switched on the intercom, alerting people in the building to the attack by letting them hear the chaos in the school office, a teacher said. Teachers locked their doors and ordered children to huddle in a corner or hide in closets as shots echoed through the building.
Among the heroes revered this week were Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach, who were the first to attempt to stop Lanza and some of the first to die from his bullets on school grounds. Also remembered was 27-year-old teacher Victoria Soto who died after attempting to conceal her students. She was described as a dedicated teacher and a kind person and as someone who cared a great deal about her work and her students.
An unnamed custodian who ran down the hallways of the school when the shooting started to warn teachers and kids to lock their doors and hide is also being lauded for his bravery. Theodore Varga, a teacher at the school, said that they were appraised about what was happening by this unnamed member of the school's custodial staff, whom Varga called a hero.
In a classroom, teacher Kaitlin Roig barricaded her 15 students into a tiny bathroom, pulled a bookshelf across the door and locked it. She told the kids to be "absolutely quiet."
"I said, âThere are bad guys out there now. We need to wait for the good guys,'" she told ABC News.
One student claimed to know karate. "It's OK. I'll lead the way out," the student said.