Children can honor the 9/11 victims by being kind to others, the acting police chief said.
By SEAN BARRON
BOARDMAN -- Even though many of them were too young to recall the horrific events on Sept. 11, 2001, pupils at Stadium Drive Elementary School were able to honor the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks.
The pupils, their teachers and several Boardman police officers and firefighters were on hand for a 45-minute tree dedication ceremony Monday at the school. Six selected pupils, along with members of the safety forces, took a shovelful of dirt next to the flowering pear tree to remember those who died five years ago at the former World Trade Center site, the Pentagon and in a field near Shanksville, Pa.
The rest of the children and their teachers formed a semi-circle around the grassy area in front of the building as each of the six took a shovel and tossed dirt into a hole where the tree was planted. The Stadium Drive pupils in kindergarten through grade four who participated were Evan Kenneally, Sydney Caston, Kelsi Ogilvie, Dante Graziani, Matthew O'Nesti and Nya Beconder.
Acting Police Chief Jerre Patterson encouraged the youngsters to remember the officers and firefighters who saved thousands of lives on Sept. 11, as well as their families. The pupils can∑ honor victims of the tragedy by helping their parents and teachers, and by being good citizens and kind to others, Patterson said.
"Be young, stay young and have fun," Lt. William Glaser of the Boardman Fire Department told the pupils. "Grownups, remember what this country means and be proud of this country, and instill those values in the young people."
Preceding the planting were performances by 12 members of the Boardman High School band. Linda Smrek's third- and fourth-grade music classes, along with the rest of the kids and staff, sang the Star Spangled Banner and "We Remember."
Principal Jim Goske said it's hard on the teachers to try to explain to their classes what took place on 9/11. It's important to tell youngsters that a tragic event occurred without explaining too many details; it should be up to parents to decide what and how much to tell their kids, Goske explained.
Goske said that his school is trying to "turn it into a positive twist" by using 9/11 as an opportunity to show the pupils the value of safety forces.
"We want to ensure the kids that they're safe," he added.
Echoing those thoughts was Terry O'Halloran, a fourth-grade teacher. O'Halloran said that it's important to focus on the basic facts of the tragedy, and that he conducts a moment of silence to remember the victims of 9/11
The teacher also said that he tries to let pupils know that the school is more secure than it used to be. As an example, school officials will place the building on lockdown in the event of a serious problem or safety breach, he said.