New Castle News


November 6, 2013

New Castle Schools: Sandy Hook teacher who protected class during deadly shootings shares story

NEW CASTLE — Forty-five minutes.

That three-quarters of an hour seemed like an eternity on the morning of Dec. 14, 2012, after teacher Kaitlin Roig made a decision that spared her 15 first graders from a deadly encounter with a deranged shooter roaming the halls at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

But the exact same time span passed quickly yesterday morning when Roig spoke during an in-service day for New Castle Area School District personnel.

Roig, who competed in the New York City Marathon on Sunday, brought a life lesson to New Castle, and the devoted elementary teacher was at her best in presenting it.

Her classroom was the high school auditorium and the students were her peers. The emotional story inspired, motivated, uplifted and challenged all who had ears.

Roig, who turned 30 last week, shared what took place on that terrifying day and revealed the positive outlook and new purpose that has come from it.

“Tragedy does not have to define you,” she said. “It’s how you choose to react.”

Roig made a choice to shelter her students in a three-by-four-foot bathroom in the back of her classroom.

Twenty others students and six teachers in Newtown, Conn. found no sanctuary. They were slain.


Hired at age 22, Roig was in her seventh year at Sandy Hook when her world was forever changed.

Roig said the school year was passing quickly as the holidays approached. She was counting the days to her impending wedding, but the countdown came to a screeching halt on a fateful Friday morning.

The day began with Roig watching the sun rise over the water as she prepared to leave for school. “Everything looked so calm and happy that I went back inside to get a camera and capture the moment.”

Three hours later she was just hoping to stay alive. “There’s nothing you can do to prepare for that,” she said. “Your life can change in a moment.”

Students were sharing their holiday traditions when loud, rapid gunfire erupted just outside the room. The classroom door was unlocked and Roig’s key was in her purse across the room. She doubted there was enough time to reach it. Instincts took over. She switched off the room light and instructed her students to quietly enter the small bathroom in the back. They wanted to know why.

One by one they entered. One standing on the toilet, another on the sink. Students were squished and stacked everywhere with orders to keep silent. “It didn’t seem possible, but we had to get in there,” Roig said.

They listened through the wall as the awful sounds continued. Roig quietly reassured her kids that “everything would be OK.”

“I love you all very much and am so thankful to be your teacher,” she told them.

“But I really didn’t think we would get out of there alive,” she admitted.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Yauger.jpg Yauger’s Mercer County trial on hold

    A pending criminal trial for the former Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV executive director has been continued again in Mercer County.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Yauger.jpg Yauger now facing federal charge

    With Mercer County court proceedings pending this week, Cecelia Yauger faces federal prosecution for alleged business credit card misuse.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • school.jpg New Castle board adopts budget despite uncertainty

    The New Castle school board adopted its 2014-15 budget Monday but may have to re-open it next week. The $5.4 million budget, introduced in May, has no tax increase and will not tap into the fund balance. Taxes remain at 17.72 mills.

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Todora.jpg Board, staff bids farewell to superintendent

    Dr. Mary Todora will retire Monday from the Neshannock school district. “I remember eight and a half years ago when Dr. John Dietz (then-board president) called to tell me I got the job. I was thrilled,” Todora said at her final board meeting.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rich.jpg Vo-tech administrators get bonuses, no raises

    Lawrence County Career and Technical Center administrators will get one-time bonuses instead of raises next year. The joint operating committee approved one-year agreements that would freeze the salaries of director Leonard A. Rich and the principal, head custodian, cafeteria supervisor and computer technician.

    June 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • FrankAloi.jpg Frank Aloi: 50 years of school spirit in Ellwood City

    Frank Aloi is a true Wolverine. Aloi, who turned 73 Friday, spent the past half-century affiliated with the Ellwood City school district and its sports teams.

    June 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • FrankAloi.JPG Frank Aloi Retiring: Ellwood superintendent leaving amid budget woes

    Frank Aloi is retiring next month as Ellwood City’s superintendent of schools. Aloi, a 50-year district employee and its superintendent for nearly 12, submitted his retirement notice to the board during an executive session prior to Thursday’s meeting. His last day is July 16.

    June 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • school.jpg District mulls building sale options

    The New Castle school district is considering selling its three recently closed buildings through a sealed bid process.

    June 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Perfect.jpg Your Education: Shenango grad never missed a day

    They say nobody’s perfect. But for 13 years, Jenna DiGiammarino certainly was. When Jenna left last night’s commencement ceremonies at Shenango High School, she did so not only with a diploma in hand, but also with a flawless record of attendance dating back to Day One of kindergarten.

    June 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • 03.jpg Photo Gallery, Story: Three New Castle schools close today for good

    Today is bittersweet for New Castle Area School District elementary students and teachers. Three buildings packed with history as longtime learning institutions are closing their doors for good.

    June 5, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads

Would you want to know what your pet is thinking about you?

Yes! I'd love to know what my pet is thinking.
Nah, it's probably not that interesting.
I don't know. I'm afraid of what I might find out.
     View Results