Kelsea and Brooke were at Newtown High School, about a mile and a half away from the shooting on Dec. 14 when officials declared a lockdown. A security guard ushered them out of the hallway and into the nearest classroom and ordered them to stay inside. School officials took everyone's phones to keep them from hearing news of the massacre.
The girls said they thought it was a drill, so they found seats together and pulled out their biology books to study for an upcoming test on viruses. "Luckily, me and Kelsea were together," Brooke said.
After an hour, they heard the helicopters overhead. The girls said the vice principal came on the loudspeaker and said there had been a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and asked that students with siblings at Sandy Hook gather in a lecture hall.
Only when they got their phones back did they realize the extent of the horror. Social media was ablaze with the shootings, and kids gathered around the school to watch live streams of the news coverage.
That night, Kelsea and Brooke's troop had their Girl Scout Christmas party scheduled at Kelsea's house. They decided not to cancel so they could gather together for strength. They gave each other hugs and Secret Santa gifts and watched Christmas movies. "Everything was still unfolding, but we were together," Kelsea said, sitting at her family's wooden kitchen table, a few miles from Sandy Hook. "It was safe, and we could celebrate what we still have."
"It made us closer," Brooke said. "I was grateful that we had each other, and we have each other because of Girl Scouts."
Kelsea said that mentoring the surviving younger Girl Scouts would help them heal. She said she's not trained in grief counseling, but that doesn't matter.
"You don't have to be certified to love little kids," she said.