BIDWELL — River Valley High School history students on Friday honored victims and heroes involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
“Every freshman and sophomore (history) student had to look up a person that perished during 9/11. Then they had to tell us about their life, where they were at and who they were when they passed away,” said Brea McClung, RVHS sophomore American History teacher. “We watched a lot of of 9/11 tribute videos.”
According to McClung, students went out in the school yard and placed flowers, with the deceased’s names, in the ground and then read stories about their lives or spoke poetry to memorialize the fallen.
“We talked about how these people were real people. They had families and people that loved them. We tried to make it more real to (students) because these kids were only about (one year old during the attacks). Some of them weren’t even born when (the attacks) happened,” McClung said. “They couldn’t remember where they were or things like that.”
McClung said it was now part of standard curriculum for students to learn about the attacks of 9/11. The flower memorial comprised part of McClung’s teaching method to help cover that moment in history for her students.
“Really what my plan is, by next year, we’d like to get about 3,000 flowers and there should be one for every victim,” McClung said.
McClung said students honored a little more than 300 individuals Friday. Some students honored two, while others honored one.
“Next year, we’re going to try and include all the grades and maybe the middle schools, as many people we can get, even from the community. So, then everyone would do someone different and we could (cover) every victim,” McClung said.
According to the history teacher, some children chose names randomly, others by names similar to their own. One student spoke of a dog who perished in the attacks. Every child picked their own person. Some students chose emergency responders like police officers and firefighters. Some individuals honored the passengers aboard Flight 93, the plane whose passengers attempted to subdue four hijackers and ultimately crashed near Shanksville, Pa.
“It makes it more real if the students see the tragedy as not just numbers but that the people had lives,” McClung said.
According to the teacher, she said roughly 300 students participated in the memorial efforts.
Kira Wilson, 15, honored the memory of Alayne Gentul, a woman who traveled from the 90th floor of a tower to the 97th to urge tower workers to evacuate before the second plane hit. She was credited with saving the lives of 40 individuals that day.
“I liked doing (the assignment) because you’re respecting the person in the building,” said Abigail Ferell, 15.
“I felt really sad that people actually jumped (from the towers) and then were crushed. It’s really horrible,” Wilson said.
Ferell honored the memory of John Tierney, a neophyte firefighter who gave his life trying to save others on the Sept. 11 emergency call.
Rayanna Adkins, 15, honored Catherine Gorayeb, a single mother who died in the attacks. Her daughter was ultimately adopted by her aunt as she was age 2 by the time of Gorayeb’s death.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.
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