Officials in Newtown, Connecticut say they have begun demolishing Sandy Hook Elementary School, and expect to have the school razed completely by the first anniversary of the horrific massacre there.

The town planned earlier this year to have the school—the site at which Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 first graders and six adults—torn down and rebuilt. "To me, that is always going to be a site where 26 people were murdered," Laura Roche, who sat on the panel that decided the school's fate, said in May. Officials say workers finally began razing a section of the school on Thursday, with demolition work continuing slowly over the next few weeks. "The process of demolition is incremental, staged precisely and executed carefully,” Pat Llodra, a town official, told the Associated Press. “There is no wrecking ball action; it is rather a piece-by-piece, section-by-section removal.”

Officials want the school gone completely by December 14th, which is the anniversary of the shooting. They are also taking pains to ensure pieces of the demolished school aren't pilfered and turned into macabre souvenirs. "We don’t want to have happen what happened to some of the stuff from 9/11,” Robert Mitchell, the chairman of the town’s public building and site commission, told the Times, noting that workers had to sign confidentiality agreements. “It would be embarrassing. The steel will be melted, and nothing identifiable will be leaving the site."

Since last year's massacre, Sandy Hook Elementary's 400 students have been attending school at a previously unused building in nearby Monroe, Conn. The state has bequeathed nearly $50 million in grant money to the town for the new school's construction, and the building is expected to be completed by December 2016.