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At county schools, remembrance resounds

From moments of silence to articles in the school paper, students are getting their share of time to memorialize Sept. 11.

By MICHELE MILLER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 12, 2002


A year ago today Nicole Farrell sent her journalism students out to capture the reaction of Ridgewood High School students and faculty members as they watched the events of Sept. 11 unfold on their classroom television sets.

It was a difficult assignment for some Ram's Horn staffers, who got a harsh glimpse of what covering a live story could be like.

"This year we're doing a slightly different angle on this," Farrell said.

A year after the attacks, the new crop of student journalists will be focusing on some of the effects of the Sept. 11 tragedy.

"We're going to look into some of the security changes that have been made here at school and interviewing a couple of our international students who have been victims of terrorism and, in one case, some racial profiling," Farrell said.

And although Ram's Horn staffers will do their share of writing about the year since, all students at Ridgewood will be reflecting through a schoolwide journal assignment.

Students in schools throughout Pasco County will be taking a look back today, many focusing on the sense of patriotism that has swelled in the past year.

Many students have been encouraged to don red, white and blue clothing and share patriotic prose, poetry and artwork they have created. There will be flag ceremonies and shared moments of silence, some held at the time the first plane struck the World Trade Center. Members of local fire and police departments will be on hand at many schools today, as youngsters and faculty salute local heroes.

"We want to recognize the sacrifices made by so many people, but also celebrate the American spirit," said Gerri Painter, the principal of Hudson Middle, where a freedom wall is being erected for a special ceremony to be held this morning.

Patriotic music will be played over the P.A. system between classes for Gulf Middle students, who also will pay homage to the local police and fire chief on the morning news show.

The flag will be lowered to half-staff during a ceremony at Moore Mickens Education Center. Students in the Business and Service Community at River Ridge High will build a twin towers sculpture out of balloons bearing the names of Sept. 11 victims, and 90 students at the Genesis School's west campus will form a human flag.

Faculty, students and family members at the World of Knowledge Montessori School in Holiday were making plans to gather around the flagpole to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and say prayers for the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

All teachers at that school will spend some time talking with students about the events of Sept. 11 before returning to their usual lessons, said Gail Gilmore, the principal and a teacher at World of Knowledge. "Both the teachers and students have felt a real need to take a look at where we've come and what's happened since then."

Dealing with tragedy on television

It was tough then not to watch the ongoing television coverage that repeatedly showed the horror that unfolded that day.

Not until later did I realize how much those repeated scenes impacted my own children as well as others who suffered lasting effects from the attacks.

While we will pay tribute in our own private way, I encourage parents to do the same and to carefully screen their children's television viewing during this time.

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