Through laughter and tears, sisters Sara and Hannah D'Avino and their mother, Mary, spoke briefly on May 10 about their late sister and daughter Rachel D’Avino, who was killed on 12/14. She was a teacher’s aide and behavioral therapist at Sandy Hook School. Others also spoke on May 10 during a special dedication ceremony to formally open an Autism Resources Center at C.H. Booth Library. The space dedicated to the resource center was named in honor of Ms D'Avino and Anne Marie Murphy, who also worked at Sandy Hook Elementary School and died on 12/14. The center includes approximately 150 books and other resources about autism including an iPad pre-loaded with autism apps that were donated by Autism Speaks. A comfortable seating area displays original artwork donated by a local autism advocacy organization. A decorative heart representing Families United in Newtown (FUN) stands at the center of the area.
Ahead of an expected June 5 town presentation on the plans for Sandy Hook Elementary School, representatives of Svigals + Partners unveiled some of the first renderings of the new building during a Public Building & Site and Board of Education joint meeting Wednesday, May 14.The plans for the new school were first unveiled at a joint meeting between the two boards on February 11. At that meeting Julia McFadden, an associate principal with Svigals + Partners and the project manager for the Sandy Hook School project, explained meetings had been held with community members through workshops and interviews, tours had been conducted of recently built schools in the state, and all of those were used to design three possible configurations for the new school.
With more than 17 years of volunteer service between them, Mary Gaudet-Wilson and Marjorie Cramer stepped down recently from the Conservation Commission. Ms Gaudet-Wilson had served on the commission for seven years, and Ms Cramer had more than a decade to her credit. On May 9 at Newtown Municipal Center, Land Use Secretary Tammy Hazen walked toward the meeting room with a special set of gifts in her hands. Mounted on a wooden backing were certificates of appreciation for each woman. First Selectman Pat Llodra presented the certificates to the women during a brief ceremony, and was also among a few who spoke during the special event Friday afternoon.
Six community organizations have come together to present “A Day of Shared Experience,” Saturday, May 31, from 9:15 am to 2:30 pm, at Walnut Hill Community Church in Bethel. The Community Connections event is being organized by The Resiliency Center of Newtown, Sandy Hook Promise, Newtown/Sandy Hook Community Foundation, Inc, Walnut Hill Community Church, the Town of Newtown, and Newtown Public Schools as a means of helping people understand the trauma experienced 12/14, and developing understanding. It will also serve as a means to learn about coping skills that have worked for others who have experienced trauma similar to that of 12/14. Attendees will hear from keynote speaker Dr Kevin Becker, and will also have the opportunity to hear from survivors and relatives of tragedies that took place at Chardon High School, Columbine High School, the Nickel Mines Amish community, and Virginia Tech, among other speakers.
Fran Normann, executive director of Housatonic Habitat for Humanity, has announced the appointment of David Moseman of Newtown to the group’s Advisory Council. “The Advisory Council is a valuable resource to the affiliate in the areas of business development and operations,” said Ms Normann. Mr Moseman, who has over 20 years of experience in public accounting, is as a senior manager at Equale & Cirone, LLP of Bethel where, as part of the firm’s leadership team, he provides oversight and guidance to in the areas of tax and audit.
A wooden tower and series of ramps rose last Wednesday at Dickinson Park, filling the place where FunSpace used to be. The old playground, built in 1989, that had offered a place for recreation until it was closed in early October and razed soon after, is being replaced by another play space. Dan Corsetti of Pat Corsetti Inc watched as his crews ran machinery and installed playground features including the center tower on May 7. Progress continues, but construction still has “a couple of months to go” before completion, Mr Corsetti said.
An aspiring recording artist whose first single is available on iTunes is committing his talents to help lift the spirits of attendees at this year’s Newtown Relay For Life. Gregori Lukas, also an accomplished dancer and actor, has committed to donating all proceeds from the sale of his single, “Stay,” on the iTunes digital music service to benefit this year’s tenth Newtown Relay. He will also take to the stage at this year’s event, set for Saturday, May 31, at Newtown High School’s Blue & Gold Stadium, to sing that number live as one of the 2014 Relay’s featured entertainers. Mr Lukas was first introduced to the Newtown Relay by longtime volunteer Michelle Babyak. He is the latest celebrity performer to grace the local awareness and fundraising activity, joining Connecticut-based artist and star of The Voice Javier Colon, who performed at two previous Relays.
With the endorsement of the Connecticut Senate in the final hours of the 2014 legislative session, the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation is one step closer to establishing a permanent animal sanctuary in Newtown. Provided Governor Dannel Malloy signs off on the action and subsequent administrative reviews and approvals occur, the foundation established in the memory of the young 12/14 victim will receive a conveyance of 34.44 acres of state agricultural property adjacent to Newtown’s animal control facility and newly christened dog park. The initiative, championed by State Representatives Mitch Bolinsky, DebraLee Hovey, and Dan Carter and Senator John McKinney, is one of several conveyances that were approved in late action by the legislature.
Hawley Elementary School teacher Stephanie Dunshee is fighting cancer, and her friend Renee Wilson wants to help. Ms Wilson has established a fundraising effort through her business, Total Performance Sports & Fitness, which is donating 100 percent of proceeds for members and nonmembers who attend certain boot camp workout sessions. The program began in late April, and continues daily until June 29. Ms Wilson said that boot camp guests can work with an instructor to use equipment both indoors and outside. Part of the fitness goals she promotes include shocking the body into working harder and burning fat, she said. Fitness workouts are “geared toward an athletic edge.”