A month after the tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn., a nearby town announced a new school building there is being named after a Sandy Hook Elementary teacher who gave her life attempting to protect her students.
Officials in Stratford, about 30 minutes from Newtown, said on Monday that a soon-to-be built elementary school building will be named the "Victoria Soto School," honoring the 27-year-old teacher who reportedly shielded her pupils in Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary from shooter Adam Lanza
Soto was from Stratford and graduated from Stratford High School in 2003.
Construction is scheduled to begin over the summer on the new building that will be an addition to the township's Honeyspot Elementary School, according to an NBC News local affiliate.
The town's council unanimously approved the decision, which was proposed by Stratford Mayor John Harkins.
"In the days since the tragedy in Sandy Hook, the stories of bravery and heroism by Stratford's own Victoria Soto have been both heart-wrenching and abundant," Harkins said in a statement. "She gave her life protecting children, and we must make sure her sacrifice is never forgotten."
Prior to the announcement, Harkins said he met with Soto's family to discuss how the town can honor her.
"Her family has shown amazing strength and resilience in remembering and honoring Victoria's life," he said.
In addition, the mayor hopes to construct a memorial to Soto and has started a petition to rename a local street that runs in front of Stratford High School to "Victoria Soto Way."
Soto's sister Jillian, who told NBC News
it feels as though her sister is on an extended vacation, said she feels good that the town will honor her.
"This doesn't surprise me in any way that she was a hero in this tragedy," she said. "It's a great feeling to know that her name will still be alive in this town and people will never be able to forget who Victoria Soto is."
The decision comes as residents of Newtown are grappling with what to do with the elementary school where the tragedy took place. More than 200 gathered to discuss the fate of Sandy Hook on Sunday, the Hartford Courant reported.
Some residents want the school torn down, claiming the bad memories will inhibit children from learning and the community from moving forward, while others say that tearing down the school down is a surrender and that only the hallways and classrooms where children and educators died should be removed. A decision will not come anytime soon, town officials say.
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