Residents in the region joined with people nationwide in a moment of silence to honor the victims of the Newtown shootings at 9:30 ET Friday morning.

When the time came, Mayor Nutter asked students from Samuel Powel Elementary School in West Philadelphia to close their eyes to "play the quiet game for 30 seconds or so" and "think about something really good."

Most of the students, gathered at nearby Metropolitan Baptist Church for their winter concert, didn't know why Nutter made the request. Faculty and many parents hadn't shared the information, Principal Kimberly Ellerbee said, adding that students had asked very few if any questions about the killings on Dec. 14.

Not wanting to upset the children, Nutter - whose daughter, Olivia, had attended the school - told the students "sometimes bad things happen," adding that it was parents' job "to take care of you and let you know we love you."

Nutter ended the silence by asking, "So, how were those thoughts?", causing some parents in the audience to tear up. "We love you," Nutter said. "Be kind to each other."

Then three students took the stage to play "Twinkle, Twinkle" on violin, and the concert was underway.

Afterward, Nutter said, "I needed to be with them. It's very emotional." He added that "we can't ever forget ultimately it's got to be just about kids."

The movement began yesterday when Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy asked people across his state to observe a moment of silence and places of worship and buildings with bells have been asked to ring them 26 times, for the victims at the school.

President Barack Obama said he would observe the moment at the White House in private out of respect for the Elementary School in Connecticut in which 20 children and six adults were killed at the school.

Then, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed an executive order for the statewide moment of silence. Many, in local government offices at least, chose to honor the movement in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The intercom screeched to life in the Burlington County courthouse in Mount Holly, as a court employee read from Governor Christie's Executive Order #122.

"All citizens of New Jersey shall reflect with a moment of silence," Donna Mazzanti read, "in honor of each life that was taken far too soon at Sandy Hook Elementary School."

Two dozen people stood and bowed their heads in court room 7B, where Judge Jeanne T. Covert had just finished one case and was preparing to move to another.

One person in the crowd attempted to talk to a lawyer, but was quickly quieted and told to sit.

Thirty seconds later, as the clock turned to 9:30, Covert thanked the room and asked people to sit.

Then it was back to business for the presiding judge of the criminal division.

And, in Montgomery County, business abruptly stopped at 9:30 at the Prothonotary's Office as about 24 staffers and a customer gathered.

"We will now have a moment of silence for the shooting victims," said Pat Parkinson, 40, the office's special deputy.

Everyone in the courthouse's prothonotary office in Norristown bowed their head, including a woman who had come into the office to file papers in a civil court proceeding. The bells in the courthouse were supposed to chime, but nothing was heard except for telephones ringing.

"It was needed," said Casey Whitehead, 25, a clerk in the office, said of the moment of silence. "Everybody was emotional about it - it was a terrible tragedy"

Robin Beall said she and all the staff, who are like a family, ached over the loss of the 20 children who died last Friday when a shooter entered Sandy Hook Elementary School armed and firing. Beall, 44, is the executive assistant to prothonotary Mark Levy. The prothonotary's office processes all of the paperwork in civil cases for the county.

She asked the staffers to gather, rather than honoring the moment of silence at their desks.

"It was hard on the staff. It was hard for them to talk about it. You could feel the tension after the shooting," she said. "Everybody needs a little healing - this has touched everybody. It hurt," she said, as her voice began trembling.

"Everybody needs a hand to hold."

Contact Alfred Lubrano at 215-854-4969 or alubrano@phillynews.com.