‘‘You have a teacher who cared more about her students than herself,’’ said Mayor John Harkins of Stratford, the town Soto hailed from and where more than 300 people gathered for a memorial service Saturday night. ‘‘That speaks volumes to her character, and her commitment and dedication.’’
BENJAMIN WHEELER, 6
Music surrounded Benjamin Wheeler as he grew up in a household where both his mother and father were performers. They left behind stage careers in New York City when they moved to Newtown with Benjamin and his older brother, Nate.
‘‘We knew we wanted a piece of lawn, somewhere quiet, somewhere with good schools,’’ Francine Wheeler told the Newtown Bee in a profile.
Ben was spirited and energetic. He was taking swim lessons, and at soccer practice, he'd often be running across the field long after it was necessary. A recent accomplishment, his family said, was performing at a piano recital this month — and sitting still long enough to play one piece.
Francine, a music educator and singer-songwriter, used to make up songs for Ben when he was a baby. Some eventually found their way onto a CD, she told the local newspaper. Ben’s father, David, still writes and performs, according to a profile on the website of the Flagpole Radio Cafe theater.
Before school on Friday, Ben had told his mother he wanted to be an architect — but also a paleontologist.
‘‘That’s what Nate is going to be,’’ he told his mom. ‘‘And I want to do everything Nate does.’’
ALLISON WYATT, 6
Allison Wyatt was a kind-hearted little girl who formed special bonds with almost everyone she met. She'd surprise her family with her random acts of kindness — once even offering her snacks to a stranger on a plane, her family recalled.
She loved her teachers and her family. Sometimes, she'd make her parents laugh so hard they cried. She wanted to be an artist, and her drawings would be taped to the walls as if the house were an art studio.
‘‘Allison made the world a better place for six, far too short, years and we now have to figure out how to move on without her,’’ her family said in a statement. ‘‘She was a sweet, creative, funny, intelligent little girl who had an amazing life ahead of her. Our world is a lot darker now that she’s gone. We love and miss her so much.’’
Her grandparents’ church in Dayton, Ohio, encouraged parishioners to pray for the family.
On Friday, after news of the shooting broke, one of Allison’s aunts posted on Facebook that her nieces attended Sandy Hook school, and asked for prayer. ‘‘One is fine and the other is missing at this time,’’ she wrote. ‘‘We are remaining positive at this time and counting on the power of prayer.’’
Later, after news of Allison’s death, she asked for prayer again.
Associated Press writers Christina Rexrode, Denise Lavoie, Mark Scolforo, Allen Breed, Pat Eaton-Robb, Bridget Murphy, Christopher Sullivan and Danica Coto contributed to this report.