At the Lathrop School of Dance on Main Street, a gaggle of pint-sized 4-year-olds hopped around and flapped their arms and wiggled their tail feathers Monday morning, practicing the Chicken Dance under the tutelage of Miss Diane.
It might have taken the would-be ballerinas a little longer to get to class this morning. The road outside Diane Wardenburg's studio was clogged with satellite trucks, lined up to capture the nearby funeral for Jack Pinto, shot dead in his elementary school Friday at the age of 6.
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Newtown, CT, USA
"My husband asked me Sunday morning before church: 'What are you going to do?'" Wardenburg said.
She answered: "We're teaching."
It was a defiant act of normalcy in a town struggling to make sense of the word. A day after a gunman shot his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 children and six adults, one grieving father, Robbie Parker, told reporters, "My wife and I don't understand how to process all of this and how to get our lives going."
That same sense of loss and dread lingers throughout this small town, represented in endless makeshift memorials, in lawns studded with angels and crosses and flags, in handwritten signs over store windows, in still-shocked residents greeting each other with wordless embraces.
Wardenburg did not know any of the young students killed. But that doesn't spare her the heartache.
"It's our children," she said simply. "I turn on the TV from 5 to 7 and have my coffee and cry period — like everybody."
Funeral Services Begin
Two of the 20 children were buried Monday: Jack Pinto, a New York Giants fan, and 6-year-old Noah Pozner, who loved tacos and wanted to be a doctor.
Journalists from around the world watched as mourners lined up in the drizzling rain for Jack's service. Little boys congregated outside the white clapboard church, bracing against the cold in team jackets and oversized sport coats.
Fifteen miles south, in Fairfield, scores of local and state police stood guard at the Abraham L. Green & Son Funeral Home as family and friends arrived for Noah's funeral.
White balloons were tethered to street signs and to weighted, gold-colored bags. A neon green sign was fastened to a large oak tree, with the words, "Our hearts are with you Noah."
Noah's twin sister also attended Sandy Hook Elementary. She survived the massacre.
Fairfield police Lt. James Perez described the mood inside the funeralhomeas "a thick, deep sadness coupled with intense love."
Perez was not spared that sadness. "To see such a small casket left me literally speechless," he said.
Noah's funeral lasted more than an hour and, as mourners filed out, a few stopped to talk to the dozens of reporters assembled across the street.
Roxanne Dunn, 42, sobbed, her hands clutching her face as she shook.
"This is horrifying," she said. "He touched us all."
It was all she could muster.