When Kurt Eckhardt heard about the shooting Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, he felt physically ill.
The band director for Connecticut’s Newtown High School, who has lived in the village of Sandy Hook for 23 years, told Boston.com he could relate to what the Florida school, its community, and teachers might be feeling.
“My kids went to Sandy Hook Elementary,” he said in an email. “Within a mile of our house, we lost 4 neighbor children. One of my students lost his brother. One of my daughter’s best friends lost her mother. And so it goes. The events of 12/14/12 in Newtown were horrific and life changing.”
Eckhardt recalled that in the immediate days following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which claimed the lives of 20 school children and six adults, “colleagues” around the country sent him heartfelt letters of support.
He said after hearing the news of the Florida school shooting he felt “compelled” to reach out to Alex Kaminsky, the band director at Stoneman Douglas High School.
“When this happens to your community, not somewhere else, those words of caring and kindness [help] to reaffirm that the world is not all bad,” Eckhardt said in the email. “There are good, loving people as well. I just felt compelled to reach out to Mr. Kaminsky, his kids and parents, and try to be one of those people. My students feel that way as well. They got large poster paper and are individually signing and adding personal messages of support from our band family to theirs. We know that community is going to need a lot of love and support for a long time.”
Kaminsky shared the letter he received from the Newtown teacher on the Facebook page for the Florida school’s performing arts program.
Read the full letter below: