Sandy Hook parent and hero, Curtis Urbina, encouraged Esperanza students to treat each other with love and kindness.
Mr. Urbina visited Esperanza Academy students on Dec. 5, 2016, and shared a story of tragedy and perseverance, focusing on his experience during the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.
Mr. Urbina was actively involved at Sandy Hook at the time of the shootings almost four years ago. He was the school’s award-winning wrestling coach and loving parent of a daughter who attended fourth grade at the school.
The students of Esperanza Academy listened closely as Mr. Urbina recounted the day of the shooting, which became the second most deadly school shooting in the U.S. after the Virginia Tech massacre. Mr. Urbina rushed to the school on December 14, 2012 and assisted with the children who had made it out safely. By the end of the day, 20 students between the ages of 5 and 10, as well as 6 brave administrators, had passed away.
Esperanza students in the seventh and eighth grades were shocked to hear that Mr. Urbina’s daughter, who fortunately survived the shooting, was only a couple of years older than them. She was in gym class at the time of the shooting and heard the gunshots over the intercom.
Throughout his presentation, Mr. Urbina reiterated that a common response to those affected by the shooting was that one couldn’t even imagine what it must have been like. But as a friend of Mr. Urbina’s who lost a child during the shooting would say, we must imagine what it was like in order to prevent it from happening again.
Mr. Urbina also spoke with a group of teachers and staff from Esperanza Academy later in the day, addressing strategies for emergency preparedness and crisis management.
This past week, a powerful video was released by Sandy Hook Promise to remind people that “gun violence is preventable if you know the signs.” Mr. Urbina shared the video with the Esperanza students, who reacted in horror as the video depicted a seemingly normal school environment which was turned upside down by a troubled student who turned to gun violence.
Founded by family members of those killed in the shooting, Sandy Hook Promise’s mission is to “prevent gun-related deaths due to crime, suicide and accidental discharge so that no other parent experiences the senseless, horrific loss of their child.”
Touching upon his childhood in the Bronx, N.Y. where he attended high school with Esperanza President Reverend Luis Cortes, Jr., Mr. Urbina told students that he remembered what it was like to face obstacles as a kid. He reminded the students that challenges should be viewed as opportunities to learn, because they better prepare you to face life-changing tragedies, like the Sandy Hook shooting. He stressed to Esperanza students that, through love and kindness, each of them could make a difference in the lives of their classmates.