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UMW freshman back at school after a month in her grief-filled hometown of Newtown, Conn.
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BY PAMELA GOULD
University of Mary Washington freshman Liz Eiseman arrived home in Newtown, Conn., for her winter break on Dec. 13.
The next morning, she was eating breakfast with a friend at the Misty Vale Deli in the village of Sandy Hook when a squad car raced past.
"We saw the police cars going by and that made me jump a little because that doesn't happen," said Eiseman, 18.
"Nothing ever happens" in Sandy Hook, she said.
Eiseman and UMW classmate Kathryn Erwin were headed to Killington, Vt., for a UMW Ski and Snowboard Club trip after breakfast. But just before they left, they spoke to a neighbor who said there had been a shooting at the school.
As Eiseman and Erwin drove north, they sought additional information on their smartphones. Eiseman heard one person had been injured and figured it was a freak accident.
"And then suddenly it's seven kids, eight kids," she recalled.
She started texting friends she grew up with in the close-knit New England community. Then everyone started texting others in effort to account for family members.
"The first thing I did was text-message my brother," Eiseman said.
Cameron Eiseman, a Newtown High School junior, thought they were in the midst of a drill.
Schools across Newtown turned on televisions as word spread of the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary where, when the shooting stopped, 20 children and six adults were dead.
Adam Lanza was two years ahead of Liz Eiseman at Newtown High School but she didn't know the young man who forced his way into the elementary school armed for war. She did, however, know two of the victims.
She had babysat for 7-year-old Grace Audrey McDonnell.
And special education teacher Anne Marie Murphy was the mother of a field hockey teammate.
Eiseman's time at home was consumed by somber reflections of loss and an enormous outpouring of support.
Main Street, which is lined with funeral homes and churches, stayed crowded as service after service after service was conducted.
Police from around the state pitched in to help with the flood of traffic from mourners, well-wishers and media.
Poster boards with the signatures of children from schools across the country appeared in waves. Teddy bears arrived from all corners.
UMW HELPS FRESHMAN HONOR HER SLAIN NEWTOWN NEIGHBORS
The state flag of Connecticut is flying in front of Lee Hall on the grounds of the University of Mary Washington this week.
The flag is flying to encourage students, staff and faculty to pause to honor those killed on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut and to reflect.
The Connecticut flag flies alongside the American flag. Normally, the eight flag poles on Lee Hall are used to recognize the foreign countries of students attending the school, said Dave Pierandri, assistant dean of admissions.
More than 30 students from Connecticut are currently enrolled at UMW, Pierandri said.