NEWTOWN, Conn. — Eight of the 12 girls killed in last week's shooting rampage at the Sandy Hook Elementary School were Girl Scouts. Two troops of the smallest scouts were shattered. One that had 10 members now has five. Another troop of five girls now has just two.
Girl Scouts are particularly active in Newtown, with 125 troops involving more than 700 girls, and now as the town struggles to overcome its grief, Girls Scouts are relying on their troop friendships and activities to recover a bit of their lost sense of normalcy.
"We were together when we were strong, and we're going to stay together now that we're Newtown Strong," said Kelsea Morshuk-Allen, a 16-year-old Girl Scout, using a term that is emerging as a sign of this town's resilience.
Small indications of that attitude are everywhere, such as the sign "Newtown Strong" that appeared under the scoreboard when the high school basketball team returned to the court Wednesday. Or the campaign to create a memorial fund from the sale of thousands of $2 "Newtown Angels" bracelets, a campaign with the slogan, "Newtown Strong. Newtown Proud." Or Kelsea's "Gone but not Forgotten" T-shirt made in a high school graphics class.
Kelsea and her friend Brooke Hadgraft, 15, met a decade ago as Daisy Girl Scouts, as the troops for kindergartners and first-graders are called. Those killed in the massacre were Daisies. Now Kelsea and Brooke and their fellow scouts plan to mentor the remaining girls in the two affected troops — all of whom survived the shooting at the Sandy Hook school.
Scout leaders are planning on combining the two troops that lost eight girls into one and pairing the little girls who lost so many of their friends with Kelsea's troop of older scouts.