Ohio County Students Commemorate 9/11
Most school students today hadn’t been born yet when the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America took place — and those who were have no memory of the day.
Many schools in the Northern Panhandle on Tuesday observed 9/11 with the goal of passing on impressions from that day to the next generation — either through the personal recollections of teachers, or by honoring the efforts of local first responders.
Flags were flown at half-staff on Tuesday at West Virginia’s public schools and government buildings, following a directive from Gov. Jim Justice. In Ohio County, students gathered outside at Woodsdale and Elm Grove elementary schools for a moment of silence, while members of the Wheeling Fire and Police departments passed out American flags to the students.
In Hancock County, students were encouraged to observe Patriot Day by wearing red, white and blue, said Andrea Dulaney, director of student services for Hancock County Schools.
“It is important that we remember those that died during this time in history. Sept. 11 is a day of remembrance to honor all our heroes that came together on that day to help those in need,” she said.
Weir Middle School students remembered 9/11 by singing the national anthem, while staff at the school donated money to flood victims, according to Dulaney. At Weirton Elementary School, meanwhile, first responders and school officials observed a program by fourth-grade students, who sang “God Bless the USA” and presented emergency workers with baskets of treats to show their appreciation.
At Weir High School, the songs “God Bless the USA” and “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning” took on additional meaning as Betty Smith, instructor of the American Sign Language class at the school, stood by the flag pole and sang and signed patriotic songs. Other commemoration and readings about 9/11 took place at Allison Elementary, New Manchester Elementary and Oak Glen Middle School.
At Oak Glen High School, Principal Dave Smith spoke to the student body and the band played a medley of patriotic music.
Events to commemorate 9/11 also took place in Marshall County Schools, where students at Washington Lands Elementary and Sherrard Middle schools participated in moments of silence.
“It was the greatest loss of civilian life since Pearl Harbor, “ said Michael Berner, principal at Washington Lands. “It changed the world in which we live. These are changes our kids have grown up with but changes that we can remember like it was yesterday.”
The West Virginia Legislature this year passed a measure creating “Celebrate Freedom Week” each year to coincide with the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and Constitution Day on Sept. 17. West Virginia schools now are required to provide during this week at least three hours of appropriate instruction in each social studies class focusing on the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, with an emphasis on the Bill of Rights.
Wetzel County Schools Superintendent Robin Daquilante said the school district is allowing each teacher to decide programs for “Celebrate Freedom Week” as it pertains to the courses of study in their classrooms. She agreed it is important that students learn about what happened on Sept. 11, 2001.
“It is a part of our history,” Daquilante said. “It is just as important as other conflicts we study that have led us to war. A lot of lives were lost in the U.S. because of the foreign attacks on our own soil.”