Many CMS students were not born before Sept. 11, 2001. In fact, students in the class of 2013 were just first-graders. A vivid moment in the lives of parents and teachers has become an important lesson in history for our students, defining the separation of before and after. On this, the 11th
anniversary of Sept. 11, our students took time to reflect on the memories of heroes and the spirit of a nation united. Here are some of the ways our students are honoring the victims and heroes of Sept. 11.
At Olympic High School, more than 100 JROTC cadets created pentagon and 9/11 formations on the football field in a school-wide assembly. Uniformed cadets marched the 50 state flags behind the American flag. The cadets unveiled a second American flag, sketched with the names of those who died in the attacks—each remembered in a silent roll call. The students listened to a reading of former President Bush’s address to the nation on Sept. 11, 2001 and JROTC Instructor Lt. Col. Clayton Neal spoke about his memories of working at the Pentagon on that day.
“Every year on 9/11 I think back to that day and vividly remember what went on,” Neal said after the ceremony. “The students are very receptive to the events. They plan every portion of this event and want to show everyone they are not going to forget.”
A lasting impact
Kennedy Middle School sixth-grader Karessa Tynan was only five months old on the day of the Sept. 11 attacks. Still, the history is quite personal for Karessa. Her uncle, a NYPD security officer on the 18th floor of one of the Twin Towers, helped to rescue employees and visitors that day. He helped save the lives of those who were trapped in an elevator. He managed to get himself and others out of the building before it collapsed.
“Each year I call him on Sept. 11 to say, ‘thank you’ and then I reflect on those who lost their lives,” said Karessa. “This day is important to me, because I know my uncle was a true American. He helped save dozens of lives.”
Sixth grade social studies teacher Raha Obaei wanted her students to be able to empathize with the victims and their families. One activity had students imagine what life would be like if they had family members missing, lost their homes or their jobs.
“This isn’t just an exercise. 9/11 actually happened. It changed how we will live forever,” said Obaei. “I was in the sixth grade in my social studies class when my teacher bought in a TV and I saw those planes crashing into the buildings.”
Karessa said, “I learned that in the face of a disaster, that America would stand together."
Student Olivia Allen is also 11 years old. Her mother talks to her about that tragic day and how life has changed in America.
“When people think about security today, it is much different than it was in 2001. There wasn’t as much security then, but today that has changed to make sure people are safe,” said Olivia.
Obaei said, “Just because you are young doesn’t mean that you don’t need to know this history. This is still the closest thing that still affects us today.”
America moves forward
Other schools around the district honored heroes with ceremonies and gifts of gratitude. At Military & Global Leadership Academy at Marie G. Davis, the school held a “Then & Now” event. Students reflected on life before and since Sept. 11, 2001. Assistant Principal Ann Laszewski discussed the ways our nation was able to move forward and come together. They also held a silent roll call to honor those who died because of the attacks.
Fourth- and fifth-graders from Rivergate Elementary completed 9/11 service projects. They visited local police, fire and Emergency Medical Service stations to deliver snacks in appreciation of our local heroes.
Laszewski said, “I wanted students to see how the country came together and focus on the positive aspects from this day. We have moved forward and we learned about the importance in taking care of one another.”