Barbara McCreary went to elementary and high school about 20 minutes away from Newtown, Conn.

She said part of her childhood died Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.She’s lived in Missouri for the past 30 years.

She raised three children, saw them educated in the Union R-XI School District and it’s been nine years since she last passed by Newtown and the Sandy Hook areas.

“I stopped calling it home years ago,” McCreary said. “It hit home because those were my old stomping grounds.”

She was at the school board meeting Monday, Dec. 17, to support a neighbor’s child who was being recognized by school administration.

Board President Gary Young requested a moment of silence for the victims and families of victims in Newtown then recognized McCreary, who had registered to make a public comment.

Speaks to Board

Her comments were aimed at solving what she believes to be the problemAltering policy, such as gun laws, or procedure, such as school intruder protocols, are what she calls “Band-Aid” solutions.

Solving the problems requires a person-to-person approach.“As a parent you are looking for answers,” she said, adding that local schools need to make a stand against the selfish interests of state politicians.

“They keep taking away money from the district but our kids are our most important thing. We need funding to help some of these kids who may be in trouble,” McCreary told the board.

She admitted that the few previous days have been tough and while the event in Connecticut has caused deep hurt she’s done processing the significant aspects of it.

“That’s why I said what I said (to the board). Maybe something can be done.”

Similar Towns

She moved to Union out of a desire to raise her kids in a setting similar to what she had growing up and drew a number of comparisons between the area where she was raised and where she lives now.

Huntington, Conn., like Union, is a quiet town full of well-acquainted people, she said. Both towns outlying major cities — New York City and St. Louis.

The suburban or rural qualities, just down the interstate from quality employers and entertainment venues but removed from busy traffic and urban crime rates, are a draw for young families.

“We used to call it ‘Fantasyland,’ ” she said. “Everything that happened that was bad happened in the city.”

Newtown, she said, was much like Beaufort — a small town between a departure and destination.

A blink and you’ll miss it, “nothing to see here,” pass through.

However, the actions of a 20-year-old man resulting in the second-deadliest school shooting in the country’s history have ensured Newtown will never be at risk of falling off a map.

Newtown Tragedy

Friday morning, Dec. 14, Adam Lanza killed his mother in her home and entered Sandy Hook Elementary, with still unknown intentions, then gunned down five adults and 20 children before killing himself.

The community entered a tailspin and soon thereafter the media spotlight.

National and international media outlets continue to feature headlines and photograph captions about families coping with the senseless loss of innocent, barely begun lives and a frantic, heartbreaking search for miniature caskets.

McCreary nurses a more hollow heart than most because more than 90 percent of her 444-member high school class remained in the area surrounding Newtown.

“I have called friends and people that I know that still live back there and (the calls) have not been returned,” she told The Missourian Monday night.

She said she assumes that a niece, nephew or grandchild of a friend or classmate was killed and she just has yet to hear about it firsthand.

“I’m not allowing myself to get on Facebook,” she said. “It’s too close. It hurts too much to do that.”

Her reaction to Friday’s events was total shock.“The meltdown didn’t come until Saturday afternoon,” she said.

Processing emotional elements of the tragedy such as the grief, the idea of healing and the concept of a new normal will continue to take time, but McCreary has no intention of processing those thoughts in a void.

“I’m a problem solver and that’s why I’m doing OK today,” she insisted.