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Stratford Votes to Name School After Fallen Teacher Victoria Soto

Town Council approves resolution naming new elementary school after Stratford native who died protecting her students during the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown.

NEWTOWN, CT -- The story of how Newtown teacher Victoria Soto sacrificed her life for those of her first-grade students will no doubt echo through the hallways of a new school to be named in her honor. 

The Stratford Town Council voted unanimously Monday to name the new elementary school on the campus of Stratford Academy after the fallen hero teacher who grew up in Stratford and graduated from Stratford High in 2003.

Construction on what will become Victoria Soto School is expected to begin in the summer. The school will serve grades K though 2.

"I am happy that the town was able to come together and pass this and I feel honored that my sister's name will stay alive and she will never be forgotten," Jillian Soto, Victoria's sister, told WTNH and other media that crowded her after the vote passed.

"For the 19 children you protected you were an angel [and] you've been my hero my entire life," Jillian said at her sister's funeral on Dec. 19. "I'm so proud of you and all you did in your 27 years."

The vote comes exactly one month after the Dec. 14 mass shooting that claimed the lives of 20 young students and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which is located about 20 miles north of Stratford.

The idea to rename what would have been the new Honeyspot Elementary School was brought forth by Mayor John A. Harkins. Though he was absent from Monday's meeting due to a family emergency, Council members rallied for a unanimous vote.

"There's no more nobler way to perish," said a choked-up Councilman Matt Catalano (R-3).

Before the vote, several residents during public forum backed the resolution to name the school after Soto. However, the majority of residents who spoke also used the time to question why a resolution mainly on gun control drafted by Councilwoman Stephanie Philips (D-2) was not on the agenda.

In a letter to the media last week, Philips said the resolution aims to put pressure on Congress to act immediately to prevent another tragedy like Sandy Hook. The resolution outlines several legislative measures concerning mental health and gun control, such as supporting the federal banning of high-capacity assault weapons and universal background checks. (Click here to read it in full.)

Philips's resolution was not on the agenda Monday night because Council Chairman Joe Kubic (R-9) declined to add it, Philips said before the meeting. The Councilwoman called Kubic's dissent "inexcusable." Kubic explained his opposition in an interview with the Stratford Star:

"I just don't think the resolution that Stephanie proposed is appropriate for Monday’s meeting in light of the fact that we already have a resolution to rename a school in honor of Victoria Soto scheduled before the council."

As members and friends of the Soto family awaited a vote on the school, several Council members lambasted Philips for pushing the resolution on a night that they said "was supposed to be a positive evening," in Kubic's words.

Councilman James Connor (R-8) railed on Philips, saying she didn't reach out to the Soto family when drafting the resolution, which she rebuffed. He said her motivation was politics and labeled the Democratic Town Committee (DTC) "responsible for losing sight" of tonight's purpose, to honor Victoria Soto. Nine members of the DTM spoke in favor of the resolution and commended Philips for drafting it.

"When everyone tells me it's not political, it's political," Connor said.

"Tonight was supposed to be about honoring Soto until Philips came in with her own agenda," Councilman Ken Poisson (R-6) added.

Catalano said the resolution should include more input from fellow Council members and the public before it's brought to the table.

Councilman Craig Budnick (R-7) said it was "upsetting to see conversation more about Philips than Soto [but] we need to have this conversation [about legislative measures] and we will have this conversation."

"When will we be moved to action?" Philips said. "If not now, when?"

Jim Wiltsie, a Soto relative, told WTNH he was "a little disappointed" with the sometimes contentious display of the Council members. "We didn't want the direction of the meeting to go that way," he said. "Tonight was supposed to be about honoring Vicki's legacy."

MaryfromIL January 15, 2013 at 09:28 PM
Perhaps they could do something like have a plaque on the classrooms, commemorating the other heroes, like the principal and counselor that tried to stop the gunman.
Betty Lopez Diaz Spates January 15, 2013 at 09:30 PM
These were students and teachers, they were where they were supposed to be in school!!!! Where else were they supposed to be????
MaryfromIL January 15, 2013 at 09:31 PM
I think her age more is what draws people. We older people have lived some of our lives, but she had barely just begun. And her actions at such a young age, to put herself in front of her students, were very mature. I agree with what I think is your point, that there should be commemorations for all the heroes of the tragedy. But that doesn't negate this one.
Arlene M. Baladi January 15, 2013 at 09:37 PM
RIP Victoria Soto...you are a legacy to love and caring for your students. Godspeed.
Pia Kanistros January 15, 2013 at 09:43 PM
Those of you on the council who tried to politicize this shame on you. You are the very same people who are trying to prevent gun control. You are so repugnant it's an obscenity to even have you on their council.. This is very much an appropriate honor for this brave young lady who died in her classroom with some of her children. she escorted them directly to heaven. The principle and the school psychologist also should have some kind of honor as they also died trying to save the school. But this young lady was a teacher who died with her kids. I think it very appropriate
john raymond January 15, 2013 at 09:45 PM
this beautiful girl hid her kids and died because he just shot her down , she saved 19 kids, did you read the story that means 19 more would have died.... SHe is a hero and a true role model and you should think about that.....
Pia Kanistros January 15, 2013 at 09:46 PM
My previous comment I ended it without finishing it. It sounded wrong this is the finish...........Sorry I think it a very appropriate honor for Victoria to be honored this way. Maybe they can put all three names on the building or naming difference offices in the school system for them.
Haywood Jablomie January 15, 2013 at 09:49 PM
Shame on YOU for trying to politicize this tragedy! "Gun control" would not have prevented this tragedy. However, if this brave and heroic teacher had been armed, she could have prevented the massacre...and she might be alive today.
Schiavetta Talley January 15, 2013 at 09:50 PM
This is so nice that their are honoring the teacher at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. My heart still aches when I read about these kids and the 6 adults that went out their way to save and protect their kids during this difficult time. I'm still praying for the families that still have to grieve on their loves ones. God is still with these families and they are stronger than ever.
Jennifer January 15, 2013 at 09:52 PM
I am really happy to see this. Victoria Soto deserves all of this. We will never forget you.
john raymond January 15, 2013 at 09:57 PM
mr schumm , is that really what you think same on you
Tina January 15, 2013 at 10:00 PM
The school is being built in Victoria Soto's hometown. A town she grew up in and where she went to school. They are honoring their hometown hero. This is not a slight to the others who have died, this is not a school being built in Newtown it is being built in Stafford. I am sure other adults will be honored by their hometowns or Colleges. The Children will be honored I am sure in many ways.
john raymond January 15, 2013 at 10:01 PM
let me restate that schame on you
Arlene Jara Strickland January 15, 2013 at 10:02 PM
Perhaps it is because she grew up in Stratford and graduated from Stratford High. I don't believe the fact that she was "cute" or "young" had anything to do with it. Your umbrage is misplaced.
john raymond January 15, 2013 at 10:05 PM
say a prayer for the Soto family they to are very brave people , God blless them
john raymond January 15, 2013 at 10:07 PM
mr schumm you just don:t get it do you
john raymond January 15, 2013 at 10:10 PM
THis Girl is in a verry high place in my book , she loved and died for her students and I myself think she is no less than a guardian angel
Sue January 15, 2013 at 10:16 PM
If I understand this correctly, the school being named in her honor, is one that has been already in the works. It is also not in Newtown, it is in the district that Miss Soto attended as a student. This is a wonderful honor for her and well deserved. Hopefully, all of the other staff members can and will be honored for their heroism.
longhornmom January 15, 2013 at 10:21 PM
Because this school is in Stratford where she grew up - not where the shooting took place: The Stratford Town Council voted unanimously Monday to name the new elementary school on the campus of Stratford Academy after the fallen hero teacher who grew up in Stratford and graduated from Stratford High in 2003
Mary E. Sayler January 15, 2013 at 10:27 PM
This is Vicki Soto's hometown. This is where she grew up and went to school. Sandy Hook needs to do something for all the victims.
Paul Rath January 15, 2013 at 10:27 PM
Perhaps she was more of a hero than you would ever be. Bless her memory, and may there be some comfort for her family.
Meaghan DeRusse January 15, 2013 at 10:39 PM
So happy to hear that Miss Soto is being honored by her homeschool. Everyone who's saying the other victims are being neglected, surely everyone will be recognized eventually, but right now this particular school wants to honor Victoria Soto. Think about the parents of the students she saved...you would want your personal hero honored before the rest of the victims in the tragedy, would you not? And to be fair, the shooter himself died, and HE is not being recognized as dead. Even those who commit a horrid crime still have a right to be remembered.
kenneth e. nance January 15, 2013 at 10:58 PM
I lost some of my Buddies overseas years ago. I believe this young woman deserves all the honor, and that her Picture should be displayed, so that we all may remember her as she was then, A hero! Ken Nance.
richard mullins January 15, 2013 at 11:12 PM
Quick thinking,and a exhibition of selfless love and bravery Viki Soto is a hero along with the other staff ....+a well deserved honor God bless them !!!
kenneth e. nance January 15, 2013 at 11:15 PM
I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT ANYONE WHO PULLS A GUN ON A CHILD, AND KILLS THEM, NEEDS TO BE HONORED----IN ANY WAY. I KILLED A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THE WAR FOR MY COUNTRY----BUT, I COULD NEVER HARM A CHILD----THAT WAS MY PURPOSE FOR BEING THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE.
kenneth e. nance January 15, 2013 at 11:20 PM
I disagree with you, respectively, Meaghan. Who-Ever kills 20 innocent children in COLD BLOOD, for no reason, and 6 teachers----trying to save them----looses any rights----and becomes the enemy.
Jessica January 16, 2013 at 01:29 AM
Because Sandy Hook is in Newtown. When we open another school here it will more then likely still be called Sandy Hook School honoring all the victims who's lives were taken here, not in Stratford. Vicki saved her classroom, whether it was wrong place, wrong time is irrelevant. I would be proud to send my child to a school named after this young lady. She was a shining star. We will miss you Vicki and all of the other angels.
Jessica January 16, 2013 at 01:32 AM
to yeahright: I'd love to see you come to this town and tell any one of the parents that this was all a hoax. Anyone who believes that this was staged and was a hoax is a moron.
Jose January 16, 2013 at 03:27 AM
ONLY IF SHE HAD A GUN.
Jose January 16, 2013 at 03:30 AM
Only if she had a gun. The No guns on school grounds, must end.

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