BURRILLVILLE – Burrillville High School students and faculty remembered the dark days in America following Sept 11, 2001 this week, at an assembly comprised of personal accounts from those who lived through the tragedy, a film documenting the story of some unexpected heroes, and a poem written by a senior.
It is the second consecutive year the school makes understanding and honoring the event a priority for students. The theme for 2019 was, “The greatest stories in history are often the ones that never get told.”
Presenters shared quotes taken from a 9/11 oral history project completed last spring by 9th grade Modern World and 11th grade AP US History students in conjunction with a unit on terrorism. The students had interviewed adults who explained their feelings during and after the tragedy, with questions such as, “How did you find out?” and “How did 9/11 change you and the way you look at the country/world?”
Four students – Garrett Wilson, Jordan Stansfield, Hannah Rigby and Destiny Ceesay –delivered the responses before the staff and student body.
“It was surreal… It felt like it was a horror movie,” said Debra Delfano in an interview with student Nick Myette.
“September 11, 2001 was one of the most atypical and shocking days in American history,” said Lisa Scotti Johnson, interviewed by Nina Acquisto.
The group also discussed how the events of that day affected those locally, and what was done to acknowledge the country’s loss. Amy Jarrett of North Smithfield was one of the flight attendants on one of the planes that hit the towers, and a memorial was set up by a pond near her home.
In Burrillville, a monument was built with a piece from one of the towers across from the Harrisville Fire Station.
Social Studies teacher John Charette delivered opening remarks at the assembly with a brief account of the timeline of events that unfolded, including a moment of silence. The introduction was followed by an 11-minute video called “Boat Lift,” narrated by Tom Hanks, which highlighted the story of boats that rescued many trapped on the island.
“When the sky swims in stone we ran until we ran out of land, when the sky became black we went to the only recognizable blue, choosing the ocean’s depth over a stone fire. The ocean must have heard us, must have felt the shore plead, or maybe, she felt the collapse too and sent her children out to carry us, a thousand ships taking the ghosts from a mass grave saving every soul they could,” Coburn read. “And the streets flooded with ocean salt, a desperate gratitude to the waves that carried them there. What irony that hell came from the sky and salvation from below, the saviors came from the sea when the land could no longer hold our feet the ocean made her seafoam into a pillow, rocked her waves into a lullaby, as we waited for the sky to pick itself up, watching the dust settle and the smoke disappear.”
“While Christa’s poem is powerful to read, it is 10 times more powerful to see her perform it,” said Social Studies Department Chairperson Stacy Lamontagne. “Her delivery was passionate, emotional and captivating. Many in the audience were moved to tears.”
Closing remarks were delivered by Social Studies teacher Glenn Siner, who reminded students of the importance of telling these stories.
Lamontagne said district officials hopes to continue commemorating the day.
“We really hope this becomes an annual event for many years to come,” said Lamontagne.