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UMW freshman back at school after a month in her grief-filled hometown of Newtown, Conn.

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Date published: 1/15/2013


And people, eager to show they cared in any way possible, made generous gestures such as paying for the day's customers at the local Starbucks.

The community was so touched that Eiseman said people wanted to start paying it forward by engaging in acts of kindness themselves.

She is working on her own "26 Acts of Kindness," a movement spawned by a tweet from NBC's Ann Curry, who challenged everyone to do one act of kindness for each child killed. It then grew to include all 26 victims.


Eiseman's parents moved the family to Newtown when she was about 5 so she and her brother could attend the schools there.

She said that isn't uncommon, with many parents commuting to nearby Danbury for work.

Liz Eiseman attended Sandy Hook Elementary. She spent kindergarten through fourth grade there before moving on to the intermediate school.

She has great memories of Sandy Hook.

It's where her mother served as a substitute teacher, volunteered in the library and served in the PTA.

And it's where Eiseman met the girls she calls her "12 best friends."

It is with those friends--ones she grew up playing field hockey and lacrosse with--that she grieved over the past month.

The dozen girls, just months removed from their Newtown High School graduation, gathered after the shooting, encouraged to do so by a tweet from Principal Charles Dumais.

"NHS Alumni--Don't allow isolation to creep in over break," he wrote. "Please connect with our students and their families. Check on your neighbors."

Eiseman attended the candlelight vigil in town. She watched the nationally televised service where President Obama and local ministers spoke.

And she watched as every adult in her life cried at some point.

She hopes Sandy Hook Elementary reopens one day so the Dec. 14 tragedy doesn't serve as its final chapter.

It's been tough having one of the worst school shootings in history being the thing that made Newtown known to the world.

"Before, people in Connecticut didn't even know where Newtown is," Eiseman said.

"It's a shame, though, that it's put on the map for this. I've got to tell you. If I had a family now, I definitely would take them back to Newtown to raise. Definitely."


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The state flag of Connecticut is flying in front of Lee Hall on the grounds of the University of Mary Washington this week.

The flag is flying to encourage students, staff and faculty to pause to honor those killed on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut and to reflect.

The Connecticut flag flies alongside the American flag. Normally, the eight flag poles on Lee Hall are used to recognize the foreign countries of students attending the school, said Dave Pierandri, assistant dean of admissions.

More than 30 students from Connecticut are currently enrolled at UMW, Pierandri said.