Dec. 14, 2012 — -- The small town of Newtown, Conn., was shocked when a gunman killed 27 people, mostly children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a school in the quaint community that parents call "an adorable little town."
Newtown's schools went into lockdown this morning as SWAT teams descended on the Sandy Hook Elementary after the shooting was reported to state police at 9:40 a.m.
"[We] never would have thought anything like this would happen here. It's a large town but it's got a real small-town, family feel, and this is just unimaginable," Christine, a mother of a student at Sandy Hook, told ABC News today.
As of November, Sandy Hook Elementary School had 456 children enrolled, according to Newtown Public Schools. Most are between 4 and 10 years old.
Joan Varga, whose 24-year-old son Teddy is a fourth grade teacher of all subjects at Sandy Hook, told ABCNews.com that the fourth grade class sang at the high school this week.
"It was big deal, they were so excited. It's a great school, it's a community school. The ceilings are relatively low, the basketball hoops are low. These are just innocent kids. It's awful," she said. "My son is proud to be a teacher. It's just a very good school."
Varga said that her son helped some colleagues get out of the building. He was not teaching at the time of the shooting, but was in a meeting with colleagues in a conference room. She also described the school's principal, Dawn Hochsprung, as a dedicated and caring educator.
"Dawn, who is the principal there, she's married to a teacher down in Danbury," she said. "Their daughter was getting married this summer. It's horrible. She was so excited about her kids and what they were doing at the school."
Sandy Hook Elementary School, which teaches K-4, is a Connecticut Vanguard School, which recognizes academic excellence and high student performance.
Sandy Hook, with a population of about 11,000, is a village in Newtown borough, part of Connecticut's Fairfield County. It sits near the Housatonic River and is a popular destination for beaches and fishing. It is also home to McLaughlin Vineyards, a family-owned and operated vineyard.
"It's an adorable little town," Varga said. "I don't know how you get it back."
The town also has some famous residents, both past and present, perhaps most notably Suzanne Collins, author of "The Hunger Games" series, and Bruce Jenner, the 1976 Summer Olympics decathlon gold medalist. "ER's" Anthony Edwards and illustrator and author William Hamilton Gibson have also called the village home.
ABC News' Adriana Pratt contributed to this report