Sandy Hook Victims Honored At Newtown High School Graduation Ceremony

Newtown High School in Connecticut took a moment to remember the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre who would have graduated with their classmates on Wednesday.

On Dec. 14, 2012, a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 20 children and six educators.

According to NPR, 60 of the 330 seniors who graduated from Newtown High School on Wednesday were survivors of the Sandy Hook massacre. During the graduation ceremony, students wore green and white ribbons that said “forever in our hearts” to honor their deceased classmates.

A moment of silence was also held for the victims, and their names were read aloud along with the names of those receiving their high school diplomas.

“We remember your 20 classmates who were tragically lost on Dec. 14, 2012, who will not walk across the stage tonight,” Newtown High School Principal Kimberly Longobucco said, according to the Connecticut Post. “We remember them for their bravery, their kindness and their spirit. Let us strive to honor them today and every day.”

As the community came together to heal over the past decade, survivors and the families of the victims have been vocal about demanding gun safety reform and have pushed forward anti-gun-violence efforts.

“I knew I wanted to do something more since I was younger when the tragedy first happened. I wanted to turn such a terrible thing into something more and that these children and educators didn’t die for nothing,” Lily Wasilnak, a survivor of the shooting, told Fox 5 New York.

At least five survivors and Newtown High School seniors are involved in the Junior Newtown Action Alliance, an organization dedicated to anti-gun-violence efforts, NPR reported. The group recently met with Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss gun control.

Ahead of the graduation ceremony this week, survivors of the shooting reflected on the 2012 attack and said that public expressions of sympathy over what they went through were meaningless to them. Families of school shooting victims need more than just sympathy, they said.

“They just want change,” Emma Ehrens told “Good Morning America” on Tuesday. “This should never have happened to us; this should never have happened to them. I just think people in power, or people that have the power to make change, should do it instead of the 17-, 18-year-olds trying to do their work for them.”

In 2022, President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan bill for gun safety measures following the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two adults. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) described the bill as the “most significant piece of anti-gun-violence legislation Congress has passed in three decades.”