Area teachers prepare to explain the significance of 9/11

EVART – Many area schools plan to use different strategies to emphasize and remember the importance of Patriot Day, the national remembrance day of Sept. 11, 2001.

“A lot of our students were not even born yet, so we try to teach them through a historical perspective,” said Jason O’Dell, principal at Evart Middle School. “Each of our staff members will share their thoughts and feelings on that day, and all of our social studies classes watch CNN Student News every day.”

Evart’s school staff members recently discussed their memories of Sept. 11 and how to express them with students.

“We were kind of reminiscing in our staff meeting about Patriot Day – the long lines at the gas stations,” O’Dell said. “We didn’t know if something was going to happen next.”

O’Dell said Evart’s students are encouraged to wear red, white and blue on Sept. 11. Students will write thank you notes to police officers and firefighters.

According to the New York Port Authority, 343 firefighters and paramedics lost their lives in the World Trade Center attacks, as well as 23 New York Police Department officers and 37 Port Authority police officers.

“What we normally do is a moment of silence at the time of the first attack and we read a brief statement over the PA system,” said Dennis Peacock, principal of Evart High School. “We don’t do a lot of special lessons, but we try to make sure the kids don’t lose sight of the day’s significance.”

During school announcements, students will be encouraged to visit the piece of beam from the World Trade Centers at the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety, O’Dell said.

The 8-foot steel beam was obtained at no cost by the department in 2011, in promise it would be used in a memorial.

Mark Brejcha, Big Rapids Middle School 6th grade social studies teacher, will venture to the department with his students on Sept. 11 to view the beam.

“Believe it or not, my sixth grade students have no memory of Sept. 11 because they were born in 2002 and 2003,” said Brejcha. “However, their parents remember that day vividly. Prior to this year’s observance, students will interview their parents and guardians on the events from that day.”

Reed City High School will participate in an annual moment of silence, said Monty Price, principal of Reed City High School.

Teachers at each area school face the challenge of explaining the significance of the frightful day.

“We are trying to target the time with a moment of silence. I think we are going to do it in both the high school building and the elementary building,” said Ross Meads, principal at Crossroads Charter Academy. “For the younger ones, they unfortunately don’t have much knowledge of it.”

Morley Stanwood students are given a school-wide reading based on facts and figures related to Sept. 11 and the new monument at ground zero, followed by a moment of silence, said Jamey Nelson, principal at Morley Stanwood High School.

“Our high school social studies teachers will do a lesson relevant to that,” Nelson added.