ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A massacre at a Newtown, CT elementary school Friday had a clear effect in both Rio Rancho and Albuquerque Monday.
Six-year-old Emilie Parker was honored with a candlelight vigil in Rio Rancho's Cabezon Park Monday night. Parker was one of 20 children gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School. She attended kindergarten at Maggie Cordova Elementary last school year before moving to Newtown earlier this year.
More than a hundred people from Rio Rancho came out to hold candles, pray and sing in Parker's honor. Some brought bouquets and others brought teddy bears. Former teachers and family friends of Parker's say they're still a little in shock. They also say the world lost a wonderful little girl.
"She was just sunshine," said Lisa Dale, Parker's teacher last year. "She came dancing into the classroom, always cared how other people were feeling if someone was sad."
"She was just an angel," said family friend Brandy Seader. "She was bubbly, she was happy. She was all girl, very girly, just had smiles for everybody.
"I never had seen her unhappy and she was just one of those radiant spirits."
Parker's funeral is set for Saturday in Utah, where her family is from.
Meanwhile in Albuquerque, it was the first day of school after the tragedy and APS was trying to help ease the school community.
A district spokesperson says students were sent home with letters in their backpacks from Superintendent Winston Brooks, assuring parents APS is doing everything it can to keep their kids safe.
APS plans on sitting down with APD after the holidays to review security.
Several billboards near schools showed messages of support for Sandy Hook shooting victims Monday.
Parents picking up their kids at Hodgin Elementary School Monday afternoon say letting their child go Monday morning was difficult.
"You treasure your kids a whole lot more, especially when things that bad happen," said Laverna Joe, a first grade parent. "You know it's awful, it really is."
"It's a possibility that could happen and you can't keep your kids hidden under a rock and so it was definitely something I thought about," said Keith Wescott, who has two young children at the school.
Faculty at some schools met in the morning to talk about what happened Friday and how to talk to the kids about the shooting. APS says counselors were available for anyone who needed to talk.
Absences at APS' elementary schools were up slightly Monday while absences at middle and high schools were essentially normal.
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