– Despite recent tragedy and plenty of uncertainty as the New Year rolls around, many kids in the Westchase area have high expectations for the New Year.
After the tragedy at an elementary school in Connecticut last month that rocked the world, for many children, all they understood was that there were children their own age that wouldn't have a Christmas.
"I was kind of scared,'' said Ashley Tarpien, a fifth-grader at Westchase Elementary. "It is hard to deal with, but I am not afraid to go to school.''
Ashley's sister, Harmony Tarpien, is a sixth-grader at Davidson Middle School, but volunteers at Westchase helping file papers and working in different classrooms. She said she knows about the tragedy, but is confident that her school – along with the other places children should feel comfortable – are safe.
"They check everything with security, so I feel safe,'' Harmony said. "The day after it happened everything was a little different, but I thought about it and, as long as we have police officer who we can trust, I feel safe.''
Sammy Seplowe, a third-grader at Lowry Elementary, said he felt a little differently when he heard the news.
"I was kind of scared to go to school because you just never know what can happen,'' Sammy said. "Bad people can do a lot of harm, but I'm still going to do what I always like to do.''
As terrible as the tragedy is, most kids seem to be excited about the New Year. Harmony is a long-distance runner at Davidson. She is trying to increase her miles and said her New Year's resolution is to be happy and make it up to 15 miles a week. Her sister, Ashley, wants to see if she can ride her bike more than 100 miles throughout the spring.
"I want the challenge of being able to do something I haven't done before,'' Ashley said. "That's what I want to do this year. I also want everyone in the world to stop arguing about everything. We all need to get along to keep peace.''
Sammy agreed. "We don't need any more fighting in the world,'' he said. "No more people need to get hurt.