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« This paper snowflake was designed and cut by artist and graphic designer Les Barker, who works at Wheaton as a web designer. Following the December 14 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the Connecticut PTSA sent out an appeal for snowflakes to decorate a refurbished school building where students from Sandy Hook Elementary School would resume classes. The school is back in session today. The snowflake Les designed and sent incorporates the first initials of the 26 students and teachers who were killed, along with a remembrance ribbon. “My first response was to think about the kids who are going back to school in a different building—making a whole transition that is hard for anybody. Helping to create a warm, receptive environment by surrounding them with beautiful things would help them feel, ‘people care about us.’ I wanted to do something that could be a way to make their return to school something hopeful, and maybe therapeutic,” Les says. “Making art has become a way for me to respond to these situations—it’s become a way for me to process my emotions. For me, this piece was a way to honor those who were victimized, and to help the community in the process of acknowledging what happened and moving forward.” “Ideally, I’d love for it to be posted in a place where the students can see it, see their classmates’ initials or a teacher’s name, in a way that can be meaningful or helpful to them. I would hope that the parents and colleagues of the victims could see it, as well. I don’t know who will be allowed into the school when classes start again, but I would hope that others, besides the students, would get a chance to see it, and that it would be part of their recovery from this tragedy.”

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