A Christian school that 'celebrates childhood' becomes killing scene in Nashville
The carnage made a stark and horrible contrast to the images of everyday life on the school's website and Facebook page. The day before the shooting, administrators posted on Facebook pictures of staff members sharing gifts and snacks as they celebrated the impending birth of the assistant head of school's new baby boy.
The 200 young children enrolled at the Covenant School, a private Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee, start each day with chapel, and study the Bible twice a week. "The beauty of a PreSchool-6th school is in its simplicity and innocence," the introductory paragraph of the school's website reads. "Students are free to be children."
On Monday, that school became the site of the latest mass shooting in the U.S., when a 28-year-old former student opened fire with an assault weapon, killing three children and three adults before she was shot dead by police. Students Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, all age 9, were killed.
Head of school Katherine Koonce, 60, a pickleball enthusiast who told the Nashville Tennessean she had added the sport to the school's physical education initiatives, also died, along with Cynthia Peak, who police said was believed to be a substitute teacher, and custodian Mike Hill, both 61. The carnage made a stark and horrible contrast to the images of everyday life on the school's website and Facebook page.
The day before the shooting, administrators posted on Facebook pictures of staff members sharing gifts and snacks as they celebrated the impending birth of the assistant head of school's new baby boy. The school also posted a notice that it was seeking two new employees - a kindergarten aide and a fourth grade teacher. And photos proudly showed boys competing in the opening day of the school's first golf season at the local Cheekwood Golf Course.
"Go Knights!" the posting cheered. "Great job, boys," a community member wrote.
The private elementary school is affiliated with Covenant Presbyterian Church, part of an evangelical movement that branched off from the more liberal Presbyterian Church in 1981. It offers enrichment classes in art, science and technology, leadership and music. The school's motto is "intentionality, authenticity, curiosity," according to its website, which is filled with video images of smiling students singing, dancing and tumbling in a gymnasium. Its focus, the website says, is on "shepherding hearts, empowering minds and celebrating childhood."
Classes are small, with an average size of 12 students, about a quarter of whom receive financial aid, the website says. Tuition starts at $11,500 per year for kindergarten and rises to $16,500 per year for fifth and sixth grade. No one answered the phone or responded to emails at the school on Monday.
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