Sandy Hook survivor, family move to Colo., work for safer schools

Reichen Posey

Reichen Posey

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PARKER, Colo. -- Separated by nearly 2,000 miles, Frontier Valley Elementary School in Parker is closer than ever to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

Reichen Posey is a now second grader at Frontier Valley.

But on December 14th, 2012, he was attending his last day at Sandy Hook Elementary before his family moved to Colorado. He was in the first grade classroom when gunfire erupted.

The gunman even pointed his gun at Reichen’s head, but somehow, the boy escaped.

And now his family is sharing their story to hopefully help others. Reichen’s father, Dave said, “There’s a reason behind our story now, it’s not just to sensationalize what happened, but to talk about how to move forward.”

The Poseys' main mission is to help families who are going through traumatic experiences of their own.

Dave Posey said, “One of the first issues we went through this tragedy there was really no one to talk to about trauma and being a survivor.  So we wanted to change that, we want to give people access to resources. Sometimes it’s just a simple story that you’re not crazy. We have a great counselor, but some of our biggest help has been from teachers at Columbine that have been able to say you can expect this to happen, your son is acting this way because of this. That’s been our biggest help. We have a lot of information that we want to share with the world. There’s a lot of trauma in schools. Reichen’s story is unique, but it’s not the only one. There’s stuff that happens every day. The teachers are the ones that have to deal with every day, so they need the right tools to deal with this stuff.”

They also want to highlight the safety measures they believe work like the school marshals program the Douglas County School District started this year.

The principal of Frontier Valley Elementary School, Ty Muma said, “I think it’s a great way to point out and model what great schools across the country should be doing. Because safety in all schools should be the number one priority. It’s definitely not a one person job, but it’s a team effort. And it’s about communication and collaboration and thinking sometimes outside the box how to support our students.”

On Saturday night, the Poseys helped present the Frontier Valley Elementary School staff members with a safety award at Douglas County Schools’ Apple Awards.

They say the staff has gone above and beyond to make them feel welcome and safe.

Carly Posey said, “When my kids came here I thought, 'How am I going to send my kids to school again and have them feel safe mentally and physically?' It’s been the teachers and principal and it starts from the top. They made me feel welcome, they made sure they did everything they could for my family and they were just there for us every step of the way. They were there in a way I didn’t think teachers and schools and administrators could be for a family.”

As reassuring as it is to see their 8-year-old adjusting and thriving, the Poseys says it is still one day at a time.

Carly Posey said, “It’s so great to see him in the happy moments, you just hold onto those because you know hard days are coming and have been.” Dave added, “Just in the last week, we had a great week, everything was fine. He read a book in class about ice breaking sounding like gunshots. And that sent him into a tailspin.”

But Reichen is trying his best. And his parents just want something good to come from the tragedy that changed their lives forever.

“There’s a lot of help out there, a lot of people willing to do good. In the worst of worst possible evil, we saw the best. Sometimes you can’t see the best without seeing the worst. I wish it would never have happened. Of course, but what’s come out of that, the people I’ve met, the good that’s going to come out of this, I feel very lucky to be in this position. It’s an honor,” Dave Posey said.

The Poseys have started a foundation with survivors and family members from Columbine. It is called A Sandy Hook Columbine Cooperative.

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