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Sandy Hook Principal Remembers Shooting Victims In Moving Moment

Many of the 60 graduating survivors plan to continue to fight for stronger gun laws.

The Sandy Hook class involved in the Newton school shooting in 2012 graduated from high school this ...
Newton High School / NBC Connecticut

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 12 years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting that left 26 people dead, including 20 first-grade students. And perhaps even harder to believe that there have been thousands of shootings since that time.

On Wednesday, 60 of the victims’ classmates graduated from high school in a quiet ceremony — in which many media outlets did not attend for the sake of privacy. However, Newton High School has released limited footage of parts of the event to the public, including a moving moment in which Newtown High School principal Dr. Kimberly Longobucco reads the names of the 20 students missing from stage and leads all attendees in a moment of silence.

"Today we celebrate the Class of 2024 with excitement and pride, but also with sorrow knowing that 20 former classmates who were tragically lost on December 14th will not walk across the stage tonight,” she said. “We remember them for their bravery, their kindness and their spirit we strive to honor them today and everyday.”

It’s heartbreaking to realize that as the principal read the names of the children murdered that day, it sounded eerily similar to how students’ names are announced on their graduation day.

The graduating students wore green ribbons that said “Forever In Our Hearts” in memory of the students and teachers who died in December 2012.

The children we lost that day — and who would have graduated this week — are:

  • Charlotte Bacon, 6
  • Daniel Barden, 7
  • Olivia Engel, 6
  • Josephine Gay, 7
  • Dylan Hockley, 6
  • Madeleine Hsu, 6
  • Catherine Hubbard, 6
  • Chase Kowalski, 7
  • Jesse Lewis, 6
  • Ana Márquez-Greene, 6
  • James Mattioli, 6
  • Grace McDonnell, 7
  • Emilie Parker, 6
  • Jack Pinto, 6
  • Noah Pozner, 6
  • Caroline Previdi, 6
  • Jessica Rekos, 6
  • Avielle Richman, 6
  • Benjamin Wheeler, 6
  • Allison Wyatt, 6

In the days before graduation, many of the graduating seniors at Newton High shared their thoughts and feelings about completing their high school careers without their friends and loved ones — and the mixture of happy and sad feelings they’re having as they reach another milestone.

“It’s just going to be heartbreaking,” senior Grace Fischer told CNN. “I can’t imagine that 20 kids are not graduating with us and that they’re not having the opportunity to walk across the stage.”

"This lives with us," senior Emma Ehrens told People. "For the people that think that it just disappears, it doesn't. It's going to be with us until we die."

A significant number of graduating students, including Fischer and Ehrens, have fought to stop school shooting in the years after the tragedy. And both women plan to study civil rights, law, and justice in order to continue their activism into adulthood.