MONROE, Conn.- Twenty days after a gunmen turned a small Connecticut town upside down, children at Sandy Hook Elementary are back in school for the first time.
Four hundreds students returned to a new school, new principal, and old desks.
But this wasn't an easy day for the Milgram family. While first grader Lauren and brother Dalton were excited about going back to school, their parents were uneasy.
"No, no I haven't gotten that far yet, about not being with them, I just need to stay with them for a while," said Erin Milgram, a mother of a Sandy Hook survivor.
Their lives and those of countless others were turned upside down Dec. 14 when a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., killing 20 children and six adults.
The goal for Newtown school officials: make this a normal day as possible.
"A great deal of thought and effort and volunteer work to make this as seamless as possible, to make it really look cheerful and happy," said Janet Robinson, an official with the Newtown Superintendent of Schools.
The school is still a crime scene, so officials re-opened a closed middle school in the neighboring town of Monroe.
Teams of workers, including dozens of volunteers and parents, worked around the clock to modify the new school.
They placed familiar desks, backpacks, and even pencils on desks to make students feel at home. The school has even been re-named Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"When you return to familiarity, in a situation that feels really comfortable, that will really help restore your previous beliefs, restore that world view that might have gotten shaken up by the trauma," said Dr. Jamie Howard, a clinical psychologist with the Child Mind Institute.
As students and parents headed out to school this morning, the street between Newtown and Monroe was lined with green ribbons in a sign of support.
Messages of hope and love sent in from around the world are prominently displayed in the hallways of the middle school.