Connecticut School Shooting Victim’s Towanda Ties

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The principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School, hailed as a hero for trying to protect children, is familiar to a few people in our area.

Her family lived in Towanda for a short time.

Towanda is 186 miles from Newtown, Connecticut.

A high school wrestling meet at Towanda Area High School helps people here take their minds off the tragedy.

But they cannot go long without thinking of the children and other victims in Connecticut.

Some are thinking of Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Hochsprung who was  shot to death, while trying to save her students.

“She was a very nice person when she was here,” said Maxine Simpson, who worked Towanda Middle School cafeteria when Dawn Hochsprung was Dawn Lafferty.

“I remember her as a student in the lunch line and she was very nice, and very polite,” recalled Maxine Simpson.  “And i imagine she was there at that school.”

Dawn Lafferty`s family moved here in the mid-1970`s when her dad took a job at a manufacturing plant in Towanda owned by Sylvania.

Outside the very school Dawn attended, a flag flew at half-staff in remembrance of the victims of Friday`s tragedy, including Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung.

“It`s a little touching, because her roots are here in our area, even though it was only for a couple of years,” said Joy Dieffenbach, who was at the wrestling meet to cheer on her son.

Dieffenbach says most of her friends feel a little more connected to Connecticut shooting because of Dawn Hochsprung`s ties to Towanda.

And today, the wrestling match at Towanda Area High provided the community a brief escape from the news that in a small way, hits home.

“I can come here and not think about it for a little while,” said Dieffenbach.  “But when you go home, and you turn that TV on, it`s going to be there again.”

For Maxine Simpson these images of police at the scene of the Connecticut school, and the looks of heartbreak on the faces of victims’ relatives, and the fear on the faces of children are going to be on her mind for a long time.

“It upset me.  It really did,” said Maxine

But she’ll also remember what brave Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung looked like as a 12-year-old back in the 1970’s when Dawn was the polite student waiting in the Towanda Elementary School lunch line.