CALIFORNIA, ARIZONA & ALASKA OF MY HEART
The heroic teacher who gave her life to save terrified
children from school massacre gunman on December 14, 2012, in Connecticut, USA
Victoria Leigh “Vicki” Soto (November 4, 1985 – December 14, 2012) was an American teacher who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. After the gunman, named Adam Lanza entered the school, Soto hid her students, then died trying to protect them, and has since been hailed as a hero. She is a posthumous recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal.
Plans and petitions to honor her by name via scholarships, roads, and schools were announced in late 2012 and 2013. The Stratford Town Council unanimously approved a resolution to name a school after Soto and the city of Bayamón, Puerto Rico, birthplace of Soto’s father, is planning to name a public facility after her.
Soto was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Carlos Soto, a native of Bayamón, Puerto Rico, and Donna Fagan-Soto, of Irish-American descent. Her father worked for the Connecticut Department of Transportation as a crane operator and her mother was a nurse at Bridgeport Hospital. Her family moved to Stratford, Connecticut, and she graduated from Stratford High School in 2003. In 2008, she earned bachelors degrees in both education and history at Eastern Connecticut State University. She then enrolled in graduate school at Southern Connecticut State University.
On December 14, 2012, Soto was teaching her first grade class at Sandy Hook Elementary School when Adam Lanza forced his way into the school and began to shoot staff and students. After killing fifteen students and two teachers in the first classroom, Lanza entered Soto’s classroom. Soto had hidden several children in a closet, and when Lanza entered her classroom, she told him that the children were in the auditorium. When several children ran from their hiding places, Lanza began shooting the students. Soto was shot after she “threw herself in front of her first grade students.” A photograph of Soto’s sister awaiting news of her sister on her cell phone was taken by Associated Pressphotographer Jessica Hill and widely reproduced across the globe. Some news outlet labeled the photograph “iconic” and said that it has come to symbolize the tragedy.
A memorial service was held on December 15, and funeral services took place on December 19 at her church, Lordship Community Church. American musician and songwriter Paul Simon performed at the funeral services and sang “The Sound of Silence”. On December 20, she was interred at Union Cemetery Stratford, Fairfield County, Connecticut. The Connecticut State Police honor guard saluted Soto’s hearse en route.
In December 2012, Eastern Connecticut State University announced the creation of the Victoria Leigh Soto Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund, awarded to students who aspire to become teachers. In December 2012, residents started a petition to rename North Parade in Stratford, Connecticut, to “Victoria Soto Way.”  On December 17, 2012, the Stratford High School Class of 2003 established the “Victoria L. Soto Memorial Fund” in her honor. The fund will use the donations made to help pay for the funeral services and for the creation of a memorial at Stratford High School and a scholarship fund in the name of Soto, a former classmate who belonged to the Class of 2003.
On January 14, 2013, the mayor of Stratford proposed the naming of a local school as the Victoria Soto Elementary School, with construction starting in 2013. The mayor’s proposal was unanimously approved by the Stratford Town Council. The mayor also stated that a fund will be set up to accept donations from those who want to contribute to a memorial, which may include a statue of Soto.
The City of Bayamón, Puerto Rico is planning to name a public facility after Soto, whose paternal family was originally from Puerto Rico’s second-most populous city.
On February 15, 2013, Soto and the other five adult teachers and administrators who were killed were posthumously awarded thePresidential Citizens Medal. The medal honors Americans who have performed “exemplary deeds of service” for their country or fellow citizens. The medal is commonly recognized as the government’s second-highest civilian award and was presented to the families of the victims by PresidentBarack Obama at a White House ceremony.
The Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters organization created the “Victoria Soto Volunteer Award” in honor of Soto who was a former Nutmeg mentor. On April 25, 2013, Ana Robles, a Nutmeg mentor, became the first recipient of the award. In June 2013, a playground in Long Brook Park in Stratford was named the “Victoria Soto Memorial Playground” in her honor.
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Woman in iconic photo is sister of slain teacher
Iconic photo of woman’s anguish before learning her sister died in the Newtown massacre is a reminder that ‘kills,’ Carlee Soto says
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See the good in a sea of bad
USA, PUERTO RICO