Parents Say It's A Lot To Process, But Ultimately Will Help Heal The Community

NEW ORLEANS (CBSNewYork/AP) — The chorus from Sandy Hook Elementary School will sing “America the Beautiful” before Sunday’s Super Bowl between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens.

The chorus features 26 children from Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., where 20 first-graders and six adults were killed in a Dec. 14 shooting rampage.

An anonymous donor is funding the trip to New Orleans, local paper the News-Times reported.

“They just got randomly picked. They picked 26 kids and hes one of the lucky ones, so he’s going,” parent Adrian D’Andrea said of her son, a fourth grader.

School was cancelled Thursday because of the overnight windstorms. The district sent out an e-mail late Thursday morning notifying parents of the New Orleans trip and that they were trying to keep it secret at the request of the NFL. It’s a happy thing to be invited to the Super Bowl, but the circumstances are sobering, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported.

“I’m excited for the kids. It’s still difficult when you think why we’re going and there’s families that are really hurting out there and we’ve got to make sure we respect that when we go and he does the right thing when he’s out there singing,” Mike D’Andrea said.

Parent Erin Nikitchyuk said that good things like the Super Bowl invitation can trigger complex reactions.

“It’s hard to balance the thought that we’re being rewarded for the tragedies of those days, but as a friend of mine said were layering good experiences on top of the bad experiences we’ve had with our kids and I think they are healing,” she said.

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The performance will be part of CBS’s pre-game show, and will be broadcast live. Jennifer Hudson will sing with the chorus, according to Mike Garafolo of USA Today.

Alicia Keys will sing the national anthem.

The NFL and its players reached out to support the Newtown community on the field and off after the tragedy. There were donations, tributes written on game apparel, moments of silence and “S.H.E.S” decals on helmets.

Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz wrote a message to 6-year-old victim Jack Pinto on his cleats and gloves, and later delivered them in an emotional visit to the family. The team would then welcome students and families onto the field before their season-ending win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

“Incredibly proud of what he’s done,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said after Cruz’s visit. “That family will remember that all their days. And hopefully some of their grief might at least temporarily be spent in being able to embrace Victor Cruz. The fact that he went and did that speaks volumes about what he has inside.”

Super Bowl XLVII will be broadcast on CBS, with kickoff set for 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.

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