Sandy Hook survivor spreads message of hope

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Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis considers herself to be very lucky.

“‘Hero’ is a term I don’t accept for myself,” Ms. Roig-DeBellis said during her weekend-long visit to the community. Having endured one of the worst tragedies the world has ever seen, the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting survivor takes nothing for granted. The heroic teacher is credited with saving the lives of all 15 of her students by acting quickly upon hearing the sounds of gunfire and locking them all in a small bathroom until the "good guys" came to let her know that it was over and they were now safe. As a response to the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Ms. Roig-DeBellis founded the non-profit Classes 4 Classes, Inc., realizing that positive social change was needed, and that it should begin with the youngest members of our society, K-5 students. Ms. Roig-DeBellis was welcomed to the community at a reception last week honoring local teachers, after which she delivered an hour-long presentation that encompassed her experience during the the Newtown shooting as well as her response, whish is a message of hope and empowerment. “You all have the power to create change, but you have to do it,” she implored the crowd of hundreds gathered at the First Congregational Church in Bristol. “Be the change!” The Friday evening event was a collaborative effort between the Bristol Warren Education Foundation, Bristol Warren Education Association and the Bristol Warren Regional School District.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.