Agence France-Presse

Sandy Hook Elementary students welcomed by Chalk Hill School

Family members of Sandy Hook Elementary School stand on the field for the National Anthem for the game between the New York Giants against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on December 30, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Credit: Al Bello

On Wednesday afternoon, the students who survived the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. last month had the chance to tour their new school in a neighboring town.

More than 400 students in the grades kindergarten through 4 will return to school on Thursday, but they will be attending Chalk Hill Middle School in Monroe, which has been repurposed to fit their needs. Reuters reported that the school has been decked out as a "winter wonderland" to welcome the students.

Wednesday will be the first time many have stepped into a classroom since a gunman killed 20 of their classmates and six adults on Dec. 14, the Associated Press noted.

The middle school was prepared for its new batch of students with a fresh coat of paint, new furniture and raised bathroom floors. The AP said some of the students' desks, backpacks and other belongings were brought from Sandy Hook to the new school.

Donna Page, who served as Sandy Hook's principal for 14 years before retiring in 2010, will be leading the school as interim principal, according to ABC News

"I want parents and families enduring the loss of their precious children to know their loved ones are foremost in our hearts and minds as we move forward," wrote Page in a letter to the school community, according to ABC News.

"We recognize your needs are paramount in our preparations and planning. Your strength and compassion has been, and will continue to be an inspiration to me and countless others as we work to honor the memory of your precious children and our beloved staff," she wrote.

Monroe police Lt. Keith White called Chalk Hill "the safest school in America," according to NBC News.

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