GMSD Remembers 9/11

On September 11 last week, students across the Germantown Municipal School District joined one another in singing the National Anthem at noon—in a national initiative known as “Oh Say Can You Sing”. The program has been set forth as a way for schools to honor those who lost their lives in the World Trade Center Terrorist Attacks.

The “Oh Say Can You See” project, while national, has some homegrown roots.

Local Germantown resident, David Pickler, took a special interest in the topic when serving out his term as President of the National School Boards Association in Washington D.C. 

“One of the single most important things I learned—was that while public education is such a large force across America, it does not have a single united voice advocating what is great about public education,” Pickler explains. 

He cites that a rather negative view has been adopted, countrywide.  Hence, the birth of the non-profit American Public Education Foundation (APEF) sought to fill that void.  In partnership with Joan Wodiska and Mia Toschi, one of the national programs launched by the APEF, “Oh Say Can You Sing”, enjoyed a very successful second year.

The Houston Middle School Choir performs the national anthem via live video feed.

“There was a real need for teachers to find a way to approach the events of 9/11 in the classroom,” continues Pickler, citing how it can be difficult—especially in elementary school classrooms—for educators to memorialize and educate about the terrorist attack in a way that is both appropriate and meaningful.  The idea of a unified America participating in a national sing-a-long is a great start.  Such a program fulfills the intent of the APEF as well as a tool for teachers when approaching a tragic topic.

At Farmington, Dogwood, and Riverdale Elementary School, students in every classroom stopped what they were doing to sing the national anthem via the intercom systems.  At Houston Middle, the choir led the school in song via a live video feed.

Farmington Elementary School chose to coincide its Kindergarten Community Day with the remembrance of 9/11.

Students at Houston High School elected a different approach. A reading of harrowing facts about the events of 9/11 throughout the day over the intercom helped them remember those who lost their lives.

At 8:46 a.m., Principal Kyle Cherry read, “Flight 11 deliberately crashed into the North Tower”. The day continued in this fashion with the following text.

9:03 ET - Flight 175 deliberately crashed into the South Tower

9:37 ET - Flight 77 deliberately crashed into the Pentagon

9:59 ET - South Tower collapses

10:03 ET - Flight 93 passengers hear of attacks and launch counterattack against the hijackers who, as a result, deliberately crash into an empty field near Shanksville, PA.

10:28 ET - North Tower collapses

Finally, at noon the words, “Nearly 3,000 lives were lost as a result of the 9/11 attacks.  At this time we will observe a moment of silence to honor the lives of those lost on 9/11,” were read.

Some students at Houston Middle School were also treated to more of a historical rendering of the events that took place that day.  Rich Lando, a recently retired teacher, came back to school to teach his 9/11 Lesson to all of the eighth grade social studies classes.  During the class, a very passionate Lando reads excerpts of first hand accounts, detailing some of the tragedy in a way that truly resonated with the students.  The lesson then concluded with several images from the attack, with a focus on those who rose up to take emergency action.

Rich Lando plans to come back to HMS each year to continue teaching this important lesson.

“My objective for the last few years with this lesson is to try to bring this to reality for the students and relay why it is so important,” Lando says explaining that today’s current students did not live during the event.





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