Prayers for Newtown: Old Main vigil marks anniversary of shooting

Despite the snowy conditions, about 70 local residents and Penn State students met Saturday night in front of Old Main for a candlelight vigil honoring the memory of the 26 lives lost in Newtown, Conn., one year ago.

Penn State students and one faculty member with ties to Newtown took turns with remembrances of that community and stood atop the steps of Old Main beside 20 small chairs and 6 large chairs symbolizing the lives of the children and adults lost that day.

Those paying their respects and mourning the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting joined mourners across the nation who took time out of the busy holiday season to mark the anniversary of the tragic events of Dec. 14, 2012.

State College joins the multitude of communities across America trying to make sense of the violence that has transpired, with people in the local community having connections to communities directly affected. The vigil outside Old Main was organized by Aviva Doery, a Penn State freshman and Schreyer Honors College student who is originally from Newtown and who volunteers for the nonprofit organization Sandy Hook Promise. Doery read aloud the names of those who perished in the attack, as candles were placed on the empty chairs.

Members of the local community joined in the effort to hold the vigil, and State College’s St. Paul’s United Methodist Church lent the chairs for vigil. State College resident Anne Ready created a website,, to promote putting up commemorative green and white ribbons — the Sandy Hook school colors — and to reach out to the families affected by the shootings.