On Wednesday, all of our schools took time to reflect on the tragedy that occurred 18 years ago. For many of us, we can tell you exactly where we were when we heard about the attack on our country. The magnitude of the events on 9/11/01 were, and remain, unparalleled.
It occurred to me that only a very few of our students were even born when 9/11 happened. They only know it as a historical event and don’t have the same connection to it that their parents and teachers have. To keep past events relevant to our current students, we have to show them the significance of the events and explain the impact an event like 9/11 has on all Americans.
As part of Patriots’ Day, schools throughout the division organized age appropriate activities to remember the lives lost on 9/11 and to honor our first responders who work to keep us safe.
All schools received a Freedom Flag, the Commonwealth of Virginia's official symbol of September 11, 2001. Smithfield High and Carrsville Elementary conducted ceremonies as the flag was raised and lowered in front of the school. Local first responders were on hand and recognized by students and staff.
At Westside Elementary, Mrs. Pryor’s students created a video that was shared with the school where they explained the symbolism of the Freedom Flag. In other classes, students journaled their feelings about 9/11 and why they love living in the U.S. They discussed the event, why it’s important to remember, and had an opportunity to ask questions.
Some schools delivered the message of the Freedom Flag in solemn, school-wide announcements.
Windsor High shared a summary of events from 9/11 on the morning announcements prior to dedicating their moment of silence to those who lost their life that day and those who responded to the events. A second Freedom Flag will be displayed at the WHS football field in September and the announcer will review the meaning of the symbols before home games.
Smithfield Middle and Georgie Tyler Middle students participated in activities through their English or Social Studies classes that emphasized freedom and patriotism.
Hardy Elementary shared the importance of the Freedom Flag and the first responders followed by a moment of silence. Second graders read the story, September Roses and created American flags. Windsor Elementary students made cards for local first responders that will be delivered to law enforcement and fire officials.
Carrollton Elementary students, faculty, and staff visited a “9/11 reflection spot” which featured an artistic representation of the twin towers on which faculty and staff members displayed remembrances of their experiences on that fateful day. Teachers shared the children’s book September 12: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right with their classes to honor the tragedy and sacrifice of September 11th while highlighting the bravery, hope, and grit demonstrated by first responders and communities as their stories continued.
Students and staff throughout IWCS wore red, white, and blue to celebrate patriotism and demonstrate the resiliency of our country.
I am constantly reminded that we have loving, caring students throughout our schools. Empathy is one of the characteristics of GREAT students. On Wednesday, our students demonstrated empathy through their words and actions as they remembered the events of 9/11 and the devastation directly inflicted on thousands of families. They admire, respect, and appreciate our first responders who run towards danger as others run away. I am incredibly proud of our students and our staff for the thoughtful displays of patriotism on 9/11. Our community, and truly the nation, will be better for the lessons we are teaching our children now.