Students remember Sept. 11, celebrate hope
By Jennifer Holloway - Staff Writer
Somers - posted Thu., Sep. 15, 2011
On Friday, Sept. 9, students at Mabelle B. Avery Middle School in Somers filed into the gymnasium carrying construction paper chains of red, white and blue links. On one side of the links, students had written the name of a victim of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and on the other side they wrote a message of hope. Their links totaled 2,996 - one for each victim.
Principal Susan Muirhead said the goal of the school’s assembly was to honor those who lost their lives 10 years ago, but at the same time to inspire hope for the future.
“We can best honor their sacrifice by celebrating our freedom,” Muirhead told students, as the assembly began.
The paper chains were wrapped around a birch tree in the center of the room. Students were later told the significance of the tree. Band Director Tony Campanelli said the word “birch” in German means “to shine” and “new life.” The tree itself has four branches, which Campanelli said is significant of the four tragedies the nation endured 10 years ago. Finally, he told students a birch tree can lose all of its leaves and still come back - something that is representative of the resilience of Americans.
Though they were only toddlers when the attacks occurred, several MBA students had connections to victims and took part in the assembly, connecting chains situated around the birch tree. Sarah Fasano, an eighth-grader, connected a link for her uncle’s brother-in-law, who worked at the World Trade Center and was in the second tower when it fell. Though young, Fasano still remembers her mother receiving the phone call from her uncle.
Tia and Tori Lashway lost their grandfather during the horrific attacks, as he also worked in the World Trade Center. “[The chains] were a great thing to do to see people’s names,” Tori said. The girls remember their grandfather as a nice person who played sports and loved playing with his grandchildren.
During the assembly, students watched a video created by student Alex Smithline that showed images from the day of the attacks. Smithline said he feels like he learned more about the event, especially United Flight 93, after working on the presentation. Eighth-grader Ben Morse also played a role in the assembly, creating a slideshow of pictures from various memorials.
“This means a lot to me,” Morse said. “I find people don’t always understand the importance [of Sept. 11], but I think we hit it home.”
The chains were to be displayed throughout the school following the assembly, and the birch tree is to be planted at the school as a constant reminder of Sept. 11, 2001, and the hope students should carry with them.