Elementary school students in Newtown will return to a new building next month, and on Friday, media were allowed to tour the facility.
The entirely-new building has improved security: a gated entrance, bulletproof windows, and lots of cameras. Architect and project manager Julia McFadden said the hope was to have those security features blend into an environment that's anything but threatening. "What you'll see in the design of the school is a real sense of opening up to nature and really showcasing nature," she said.
Large, glass curtain walls open into a big courtyard. There are bird murals, beams that look like branches -- and even a built-in treehouse.
Near one entrance is a large mural, made out of green glass that holds a two word message: "Be Kind."
First Selectman Pat Llodra said she hopes that will show Sandy Hook is a place that inspires good. "Our school is built upon the message of its principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed on Dec. 14, to be nice to each other," Llodra said. "That is all that really matters."
Sandy Hook families have already toured the building. Superintendent Joseph Erardi said about 35 students who were in kindergarten when shooting broke out -- will be returning. They're now in fourth grade and had been going to class in neighboring Monroe.
The new Sandy Hook School cost about $50 million, which was paid for entirely by state taxpayers. Classes begin on August 29.