Dozens of teachers and hundreds of students participated in OHS' outdoor 9/11 reflection on Friday ahead of the 20th remembrance with a day of special events.
Students helped place miniature American flags adorned with paper flowers around the perimeter of the school, visited with retired FDNY member Dave Williams, whose firetruck is now a 9/11 Memorial on wheels, held a moment of silence near 20 American flags, representing the years since 2001, and viewed the flags of more than 50 countries that also lost citizens on that day.
One group of students stood silently with their teachers; heads bowed. "We're out here in memory of the victims of 9/11," Alex Cerda, an 11th grader, said. Roldany Liriano explained that the miniature flags with paper flowers represent the heroes who sacrificed their lives that day to save others, as well as the many beloved people lost.
Inside the building, a large American flag banner was filled with student pledges to honor the sacrifices and service that happened in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks by committing to community service and acts of kindness. Students also signed a "Never Forget" poster that will hang in a September 11th museum.
The high school plans to continue to encourage students to engage in service, kindness and giving back all year long.
Todd Nussen, one of several OHS teachers who helped organize the day's events, said that he was an EMT in 2001 and remembers seeing an aerial photo of people lined up for blocks to donate blood. The image of people caring for others has stayed with him.
"That's the message of 9-11 I want to convey to students: the service, the heroes, and the humanity in how people came together and helped one another. "