Student receives first Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung Scholarship - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Sandy Hook: Tributes to the Lost

Student receives first Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung Memorial Scholarship

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Dawn Hochsprung Dawn Hochsprung

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, where on Dec. 14, 2012, 20 children and six adults lost their lives, Eyewitness News will share a little about each person's life and how their families are honoring their legacies.

Eyewitness News also wants to look at some of the good that's happening in memory of those taken from their families.

Dawn Hochsprung was Sandy Hook's principal and a Naugatuck native.

A scholarship has been established in her name at her alma mater, Naugatuck High School.

"Her being a principal was pretty much her life, that was her passion, her goal," said 18-year-old Brenda Swingle, who was the first recipient of the Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung Scholarship. "I just want to be one that makes learning fun. I want kids to be excited to come to school."

After Swingle graduates Naugatuck High School, she is planning to study elementary education at Green Mountain College in Vermont. The scholarship will provide $3,000 for the first year of school. 

"It does help me a lot," Swingle said. "It's going to help me pay for school, so I can know how to become that teacher. So, I know all the skills it'll take to be like Dawn."

Hochsprung's two daughters, Erica Lafferty and Tina Hassinger, approached the Connecticut Community Foundation to set up the scholarship that will keep their mother's memory alive.

They wanted to help a future educator. Lafferty said she wanted someone who has qualities like Hochsprung such as inspiration, leadership and loves to teach children. 

"So that's my hope for the first recipient who gets it and for all the years to come," Lafferty said.

"And someone whose concerned about the community, service, cares for others and whose a leader and someone who inspires," said Paula Van Ness, who is the CEO of the Connecticut Community Foundation.

Hochsprung's family is raising money in other ways as well, such as fundraising events where they sell clothing, coffee mugs, bracelets even bumper stickers that spread dawn's message of kindness.

So far, through generous donations and fundraisers like a recent zumbathon, more than $100,000 has been raised from people near and far.

From this year forward, every year one graduating Naugatuck High School senior will be awarded, at the very least, $3,000 through this memorial fund.

Even though Swingle never got to meet Hochsprung, she said she learned a lot about Sandy Hook's beloved principal. Swingle said she hopes one day she'll be just like her.

"She's pretty much my hero," Swingle said. "The person I look up to every time I might doubt myself about becoming a teacher. I'll think about her and what she meant.

For more information on or to register for Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung Scholarship by clicking here or by calling Eyewitness News at 1-866-539-9372 for a mailing address.

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