The town of Stratford, Connecticut voted to name a new school after one of its homegrown heroes, Victoria “Vicki” Soto. She is the 27-year-old teacher who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in nearby Newtown, Connecticut. According to authorities, Soto hurriedly hid her classroom’s children in a closet when she heard shots, and minutes later told shooter Adam Lanza the children were not there. He then shot her dead before moving on to another class.
“It’s a great feeling to know that her name will still be alive in this town and people will never be able to forget who Victoria Soto is,” said her sister, Jillian Soto, who attended the town council meeting where the vote took place, according to a report from NBC News Connecticut.
“She gave her life protecting children, and we must make sure her sacrifice is never forgotten,” said Stratford Mayor John Harkin. “Over the last couple of weeks, I have met with Victoria’s family and discussed how the town can recognize her in a meaningful and appropriate way. Her family has shown amazing strength and resilience in remembering and honoring Victoria’s life,” he added.
Soto, whose father is Puerto Rican, came from the close-knit community of Stratford, where everyone seemed to know her or her family. The young teacher’s funeral was attended by hundreds of people, and legendary singer Paul Simon sang “The Sounds of Silence.” The town is less than 20 minutes from Newtown, where Soto as well as 5 other adults and 20 children were killed in the December 14th shooting rampage.
The fact that the shooter targeted children who were younger than six years old and that he killed so many people so quickly has led to an ongoing national conversation about gun control. The Obama administration is working on a combination of executive orders and proposed legislation to try to limit the ease with which guns are currently acquired.
In Stratford, officials are trying to ensure the memory of the heroic teacher. The construction of the school, which will be named in her honor, starts this summer. There are also proposals to build a town memorial, as well as to change the name of the road in front of her high school from North Parade Way to Victoria Soto Way.