Thursday marks the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and the students and faculty at West Hall Middle School have joined up for a schoolwide project to show they haven’t forgotten.
Led by Beth Stege’s special education class, the completed project will cover a wall at the front of the school with close to 900 stars decorated with student and staff names in the shape of an American flag in memory of 9/11.
West Hall Middle School has created a different kind of memorial every year since 2001 to commemorate the anniversary of the attack.
"This is kind of a tradition," Stege said.
Stege said the project will take at least a week to finish, and this year, her special education class collaborated with one of the math classes to calculate the dimensions of the large flag design.She said it was fun for everyone involved to figure out how many four-and-a-half-inch stars would fit onto a 13-foot wall in the shape of a waving flag.
"We get involved as much as we can with the other students," Stege said. "This is a good thing, to remember about 9/11."
Alvieshia Smith, a paraprofessional who works with Stege, said she feels it is important to remind everyone of the significance of that day.
"It’s a very sad day; it brings back those memories," Smith said. " But you think about how we overcome the years. You do it with a sense of pride."
Many of the students at West Hall Middle School were very young in 2001, and the memorial project serves to remind and educate them of the events that led to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Stege said.
"People have really, really sacrificed for us to have what we have, and we like to remember that," Stege said.
The flag mural will stay up all year, and Stege said the students enjoy seeing their names on the wall.
She said it serves as a way for the kids to remember, "I’m part of this school, I’m part of this country. It really makes a difference."
All of the students in the school made stars for the flag, not just those in Stege’s class, and some said they like the memorial project her class heads up every year.
Chase Jarrard, 14, said though he was young, he remembers where he was on Sept. 11, 2001.
"I was at my house. ... My dad walked downstairs and said New York is in trouble, or something. I ran upstairs and he turned on the news and there was this big cloud of smoke," Jarrard said. "I was glad I was at home and not there."
LeNiesha Kearse, 13, said though she didn’t remember too much about that day, she believes awareness and memorials like West Hall’s are important.
"I don’t remember much, but I saw it on the news and saw how people were trying to get away from the fire by jumping out," Kearse said.
Mount Vernon Elementary School also will be reflecting this year with a program to honor military and community service workers on Sept. 11.