Sandy Hook School Shooting Survivors Will Honor The Victims As They Graduate High School

On Dec. 14, 2012, 26 people, including 20 first grade students, were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

It has been 12 years since a lone gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and killed 26 people, 20 of whom were first grade students. Now the survivors of that shooting, the classmates of those young victims, are graduating from high school.

As high school students Emma Ehrens and Grace Fischer prepare to graduate from high school on Wednesday, they are preparing for the heartbreaking moment when the names of their former classmates, the 20 students who were killed in December 2012 in the worst school shooting in U.S. history, will be called. “It’s just going to be heartbreaking,” Grace 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.”

Emma added that she’s feeling all sorts of different emotions ahead of the graduation. “Thinking about all the what ifs: what if they were sitting next to me at graduation, what if we were still friends, where would we be? It’s just going to be a lot of what ifs in my head,” she told CNN.

Memories of that awful day still haunt these young students as they prepare to graduate from high school. “It's still, even over 10 years later, just so difficult to try and dig up those memories because of how traumatic and painful it is,” Ella Seaver, who was 7 years old at the time of the shooting, told Good Morning America. She went on to say that talking to fellow survivors has made a difference. “For me personally, when I get to talk to these five other people, it’s comforting in a way, because you have this connection that’s never gonna go away.”

Some of the graduating survivors are planning to use their experience to make the world a better place after high school. Several survivors told GMA that they plan to go into politics or law, while Ella Seaver said she has known she wanted to be a therapist since she was just 8 years old. “I have been in and out of therapy almost my whole life, especially after the shooting, and it’s really just helped me cope and helped me learn about myself, so I want to try and pay that forward and help people who have gone through gun violence, or even people who haven't, who are just struggling in their daily life.”

As for survivor Grace Fischer, she told CNN that her lost classmates were behind her decision to study law and justice at university. “I really want to make sure that they know I’m doing something,” she told the news outlet. “Even though they’re not here anymore, there are people who survived that are really trying to push for them. Because their lives were lost so early and I went through that at such an early age, I feel like it’s my purpose to continue my life in honor of them.”

In an effort to remember and honor the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre, the graduating students will wear green and white ribbons on their graduation gowns with the inscription “Forever in our hearts.”