Rio Rancho community remembers one of their own

Posted at: 12/16/2012 8:49 PM
Updated at: 12/17/2012 12:12 AM
By: Adam Camp, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Emilie Parker died on Friday - shot to death - along with 25 other people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Just a year earlier, she attended Maggie Cordova Elementary in Rio Rancho.

Her former principal, Cathy Gaarden, spoke Sunday afternoon about her memories of Emilie as a kindergartener.

"She greeted her teachers, Ms. Dale and Ms. Leber each morning by saying, 'salutations, teacher,'" Gaarden recalled. "She'd just come up hug my leg and grab my leg. She was just a very effervescent, we'd call her, our teachers kept saying, sparkly. Her mothers best friend kept saying sparkly."

Gaarden learned Friday afternoon that Emilie Parker never came out of Sandy Hook following the shooting. Parents who knew Emilie and her family got word from Emilie's mom about the news and told Gaarden and the other teachers at school.

"It is devastating," Gaarden said. "I mean, it makes you physically sick. You can't eat, you can't sleep. It's just unbelievable the level of violence we live in this world. It's just so out of control."

With most of Emilie's former classmates still attending Maggie Cordova Elementary, Gaarden said she has put a lot of thought into what she will tell the students Monday morning.

"We will just, you know, remind them that they're safe and we will keep them safe," Gaarden said. "Mr. Mackay (Maggie Cordova Assistant Principal) and I will keep them safe and their teachers will keep them safe."

The school will provide counselors and psychiatrists for students. They said there will not be any added security, but Gaarden said teachers and staff will be more vigilant in making sure guests have their passes showing.

There will be a prayer vigil held by Emilie's former church at Cabezon Park in Rio Rancho Monday night at 6 p.m.

There is also an Emilie Parker Fund on facebook.