Grants Pass Students Commemorate 9/11

The students of Grants Pass (Ore.) Adventist School (GPAS) honored local police officers, firefighters and military veterans with a special program Sept. 9 that commemorated the Americans who gave their lives in the 9/11 attacks.

Thomas Kennedy, GPAS principal, opened the program with John 15:13: "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." After the kindergarteners led the Pledge of Allegiance, the program continued with music, a recitation of Psalm 23 and a moment of silence to remember the fallen of 9/11.

The guests of honor were presented with commemorative medallions and baskets heaped with homemade delights. Students were able to shake hands with the local heroes and distribute notes thanking them for their service. Parents, community members and the local news station joined in for the memorial.

Scale models of the twin towers, the Pentagon and hijacked airplanes covered with the names of the victims who died in each one were displayed at the program. The idea for building the models came from Kennedy, who wanted to think of a way to make the 9/11 tribute meaningful to his students.

His idea was taken up by the entire staff and student body. Roger Anderson, school-board chair and military veteran, volunteered to build the framework for each of the buildings. After the framework was built, the fifth- and sixth-grade students pasted the names of those who lost their lives on each respective building and highlighted the names of the first responders who died — blue for the 72 fallen police officers and red for the 343 firefighters.

The seventh- and eighth-grade class built four scale airplanes representing American Airlines Flights 11 and 77 and United Airlines Flights 93 and 175. They covered each with the names of victims who died when those flights were hijacked.

Third- and fourth-grade students organized homemade baked goods into baskets, which Terah Enrich, kindergarten teacher, wrapped and decorated. The first- and second-grade students created thank-you notes and drew pictures to add to the gifts for the officers, firefighters and veterans attending the 9/11 program.

The students agreed the cumulative event was well worth the effort. "The more names we pasted, the more real 9/11 became to me," says Ronnie Fitzpatrick, a seventh-grade student. "It changed the way I look at service people."

December 01, 2011 / Oregon Conference