One young boy bowed his head, his eyes fixed on his old-school sneakers. Beside him, a seventh-grade girl who looked 9 clasped her hands as she looked to the ceiling, maybe beyond.
Side by side in Room 126 at TechBoston Academy, the middle-
schoolers stood in silent remembrance Friday morning of victims of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Many students wore green and white, the colors of the school in Newtown, Conn., in solemn tribute.
One week after the attack began, a mournful nation observed a moment of silence in memory of the 20 children and six adults killed at the school, among the deadliest massacres in US history.
The governor of Connecticut, Dannel Malloy, had called for a statewide moment of silence at 9:30 a.m. to “mourn the loss of far too many promising lives.” On Friday, Malloy and other mourners gathered on the steps of the Newtown Town Hall, where bells tolled 26 times in memory of each victim.
In Boston, a moment of silence was held at the state’s memorial to homicide victims, and the Old North Church bells rang forth. Public safety workers silenced their radio conversations, except in emergencies.
At the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston’s South End, the Rev. Kevin O’Leary led a prayer service for the victims.
“We pray for their families; we pray for all first responders and their relatives and friends,” O’Leary said, as parishioners knelt and clasped their hands.
Michael McDonald, a parishioner who attended the service, said the attacks had left him “heavy-hearted.”
“I don’t know,” said McDonald, 52. “So much violence going on in the United States,”
Meanwhile, a small group of students in the church prepared for a morning remembrance, laying a paper-link chain on the steps to the pulpit. The chain had 20 yellow links for the slain children, and eight green ones for the adults, including the gunman, Adam Lanza, and his mother. White links signified the community as a whole.
“It’s a sad story, just horrible,” said student Kimberly Ferreira, as she sat on the steps beside the chain.
“They didn’t wake up that morning thinking, oh, we’re never going to see our parents again or we’re never going to get our Christmas presents,’’ said Laura Demezieux, another student.
In Norwood, south of Boston, a group of mothers gathered in the rain for a memorial walk, one minute for each victim.
“Most of us felt the need to do something,” said Alyssa Ellis, who organized the event after seeing the idea on a Facebook memorial page.
The women walked around a field in small groups and talked about how the tragedy had put things in perspective. More than before, they are treasuring moments with their children, they said.
After the walk, the group gathered in a circle and took turns reading the names of the victims aloud. As they said the names, several women cried.
Amid rumors that someone had made violent threats against the schools, police stepped up security at the high and middle schools. Bill Brooks, the Norwood police chief, said police interviewed students and searched Facebook and Twitter, but did not find any evidence of threats.
The superintendent of schools in Norwood, James Hayden, notified parents about the rumors and the heightened security. Around noon, he said the school day was running smoothly.
At TechBoston Academy in Boston, headmaster Mary Skipper said faculty and staff watched the students closely this week for any signs of distress and did their best to reassure them they were safe.
“School is the one safe place they have,” she said. “The idea that someone could shatter that and steal so many innocent lives is very disturbing. We want to keep that innocence.”
Sixth-grader Andrea Thompson came up with the idea for students to wear green and white in solidarity with Newtown. In a soft, shy voice, Andrea said that after seeing the news, she wanted to help however she could.
“I was very sad,” she said. “I love little kids.”
After the moment of silence, teacher Tanisha Milton asked the children if they were OK, then asked if they wanted to share their thoughts. After a few more moments of silence, Reynaldo Maldonado volunteered.
“I feel sad for those children,’’ he said. “They were looking forward to lots of things.’’
Christian Gillard said the children could have become anything, maybe even a famous athlete or scientist. But now they are gone.
“I feel bad for these kids because they can’t have a future,’’ Christian said. “Their whole lives were taken away.’’
Milton told the students that they were safe at the school and that teachers would do whatever it takes to protect them. If anyone had questions or needed to talk, she was there, she said.
“Just know there is hope,’’ she said.