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Last three funerals for Newtown children held; school resumes Jan. 3

In classrooms, churches, and other places, bells rang out across the country while people observed a moment of silence for the victims of the Newtown, Conn. shooting. NBC's Ron Mott reports.

Updated at 3:40 p.m. ET: The last of the funerals for the 26 victims of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., were held Saturday, ending a week-long procession of funerals as the final three young victims are laid to rest.

On Friday morning, exactly one week after a gunman burst into Sandy Hook Elementary and killed 20 first-graders and six educators, the nation paused for a moment of silence and tolled bells 26 times for the victims.

Josephine Gay's funeral mass was held at Saint Rose of Lima Saturday morning. The first grader had just turned 7 the week of the shooting. On Monday, purple balloons — Josephine’s favorite color — sprouted from the family mailbox and those of all her neighbors.

"'Joey' is a beautiful little girl, may she never be forgotten and live forever in our hearts," wrote Polly Larsen, a family friend, on Facebook.


Six-year-old Ana Marquez-Greene had just moved to Newtown two months ago, in part, because of Sandy Hooks’s pristine reputation, her grandmother, Elba Marquez said. Ana's funeral was held Saturday morning at First Cathedral in Bloomfield, Conn.

Ana’s father, Jimmy Greene, wrote on Facebook, "As much as she's needed here and missed by her mother, brother and me, Ana beat us all to paradise."

Emilie Parker, 6, loved to make people smile and never missed a chance to draw a picture or make a card. Her father, Robbie Parker, said she loved to try new things, except for food.

Related: Profiles of the victims

In a press conference, Parker said he held no animosity for the gunman, even as he struggled to explain the death to his other two children, ages 3 and 4. He was sustained, he said, by the fact that the world is better for having had Emilie in it.
 
"I'm so blessed to be her dad," Parker said.

Emilie was laid to rest Saturday in Ogden, Utah, where her family lived before moving to Newtown. On Friday night her family held a memorial service in Ogden and released 26 lanterns. Emilie's dad released the final lantern, a pink one, his daughter's favorite color.

Back to school: Jan. 3
As the funerals and wakes for those killed come to an end, Chalk Hill Middle School in neighboring Monroe is being refurbished into an elementary school, ready to open on Jan. 3.

The first grade will be consolidated into one class, according to The Associated Press. The rooms are being repainted, the technology being upgraded and the floor being raised in the bathrooms so that the little ones can properly sit on the toilets.

Chalk Hill teachers have volunteered to decorate and paint the classrooms, and the school district is offering the middle school, which has been empty for two years, free of charge.

"We're going to have a lot of support for them," Newtown Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson said of the approximately 30 teachers and staff members from Sandy Hook. "Certainly, if they need more time, they can have more time. But I think many don't want their children -- they own those children -- they don't want them to be with a substitute. So I think most of them are going to try to come back."

Robinson described to the AP how the morning of the shooting unfolded for her.

She arrived at the Sandy Hook firehouse where families of students had gathered, but she didn’t know how many children had been killed.

Then the police chief took her aside, she recalled: “He said, ‘Janet, this is much worse than you're probably thinking.’”

The Associated Press contributed reporting.