As a stunned nation set its eyes on Newtown, CT this week a group of South Brunswick girls joined together to pay tribute to the lives lost.
The Crossroads Middle School girls basketball team donned socks in the green and white Sandy Hook school colors during a victory against East Brunswick's Churchill Middle School on Monday.
"During practice our coach brought us together the day it happened and talked about what we could do to support them," said Crossroads player Samia Baig. "We all felt so sorry for the kids and their families and thought it would be a good idea."
Samia brought the idea for wearing Sandy Hook's school colors to coach C.J. Hendricks, who was also looking for a simple tribute for the victims.
"I said to (Samia) that we're right on the same page," Hendricks said. "It was an awesome idea for something we could do to honor the victims."
Following the National Anthem, girls from both teams joined hands during a moment of silence for the victims in a show of togetherness.
"I told the girls before the game that playing basketball is fun and you should appreciate the fact that you can do this everyday, but today we're playing with more purpose," Hendricks said. "We're honoring those who are not here. Kids who had their whole lives ahead of them who won't be able to do this. Always remember to appreciate what you have and take advantage of every opportunity you have."
As local staff members tried to conduct normal school classes this week, Hendricks said much of the focus has been to remain positive. While a tragedy so profound as what occurred in Newtown can be difficult to discuss with young children, Hendricks said he was amazed at what he saw from students in South Brunswick in the wake of the shootings.
"I have a unique opportunity as a phys ed teacher to see all the kids in school throughout the week and to see how they responded," he noted. "The talk from kids here hasn't been about are we going to be okay, the kids are asking what can we do to help. From what I've seen they're just thinking about the kids and their families and want to know what they can do. To see that from kids so young is just amazing."
The squad is meeting again this week to coordinate sending holiday cards and get well wishes to Sandy Hook, as local parents wrestle with how to broach the topic with their kids. For Samia's mother, there was a sense of pride in how her daughter reacted.
"This is something you try to instill in your kids, but to have her think of something like this on her own and to get her teammates involved is special," said Samia's mom Azra Baig.
Samia said the tragedy was difficult to hear about, but her peers remain focused on the steps they can take to send their support to the victims.
"We just want to send our regards to them and wish them the best," she said. "You think about how could somebody do this to kids, and to be thankful for what we have and that we're safe."