Posted at: 05/16/2013 10:21 PM
By: Maria Guerrero, KOB Eyewitness News 4
One of the victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting lived in New Mexico before her family moved to Newtown, Connecticut.
Today, her former school in Rio Rancho held a touching ceremony and dedication in her honor. Emilie Parker’s parents, Robbie and Alyssa flew in for the ceremony.
This is their first time back in New Mexico since losing their daughter in December.
The pain may never go away, but Robbie and Alyssa Parker are still grateful.
“Even though Emilie is not going to grow up to lead a meaningful life it's neat to see that the life she did have was meaningful and it touched a lot of people," said a tearful Robbie Parker.
Emilie Parker, 6, left a lasting impression on Maggie Cordova Elementary School in Rio Rancho where she attended kindergarten.
“We needed to make the promise to them in person that we will never ever forget her and their legacy will live on here at our school," said Principal Cathy Gaarden.
The school will soon transform space in front of the school building into a garden in Emilie’s memory.
"Well when I think of Emilie I think of color and life and growing and all those things a garden encompasses," said Alyssa Parker.
As “Emilie’s Garden” will soon flourish in Rio Rancho, so will the Parker’s work to avoid another school shooting.
"It became our mission to get as much information about safety as possible and how to secure schools and what have we've learned is that the power lies within the community to make changes," Alyssa says of the website www.safeandsoundschools.org.
The organization was put together by parents of Sandy Hook students.
The Parkers have also started a foundation called: The Emilie Parker Art Connection.
"New Mexico was one of those and we want to be able to pay it forward to art programs here," said Alyssa of the effort.
During Thursday’s emotional and private ceremony, the Parkers donated books and one of Emilie’s art pieces to her former school.
Most of all, Robbie and Alyssa Parker want to thank everyone for their support.
“I don't know if we can come up with a way to properly thank people for that,” said Alysaa. “Just know that the things that they did, however they demonstrated their support was felt," added Robbie.
The school hopes to have the garden planted and blooming by next spring.