Students Remember 10th Anniversary of 9/11

Great Neck Public School students commemorated the 10th Anniversary of the tragic events on September 11, 2001, in meaningful and poignant ways.

Elementary students participated in school-wide moments of silence on Friday, Sept. 9, followed by patriotic songs by the school choruses. Upper grades held sensitive and age-appropriate class discussions, many as part of their social studies lessons. Families were also encouraged to attend the Great Neck Clergy Association's Memorial Service on Sunday, Sept. 11, held at the Jonathan L. Ielpi Firefighters Park.

The Memorial Service honored and remembered all the victims who died on Sept. 11, 2001, but most especially Great Neck's own: Peter C. Frank, Jonathan Lee Ielpi, Frederick Kuo, Jr., Richard Y. C. Lee, Andrew Stergiopoulos, and Joshua S. Vitale. At the Service, student musicians and vocalists from North and South High Schools, in a combined choir and symphonic band, provided a stirring rendition of "America the Beautiful." They also accompanied the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America."

On Wednesday, Sept. 14, North Middle School held a powerful September 11 Assembly followed by the dedication of its Memorial Garden. North Middle graduates Jonathan Ielpi and Andrew Stergiopoulos were remembered with moving tributes. Especially heartfelt was the tribute delivered by a seventh-grader, in honor of his father, Richard Lee. Songs and poems were also a significant part of the Assembly. The Memorial Garden in the school's courtyard holds six round stepping-stones arranged in a semicircle. Each stone has a bronze eagle on top and a bronze "In Loving Memory of…" sign alongside, with the name of one of Great Neck's six victims engraved. North Middle students held numerous fundraising events, especially bake sales, to purchase the stones and nameplates. A section of an I-beam from the Twin Towers and a memorial bench are also part of the Garden. Both were donated through the auspices of the Tribute WTC (World Trade Center) Visitors Center. North Middle's Assembly and Memorial Garden were outgrowths of last year's pilot multidisciplinary curriculum on September 11.

South Middle students heard about the significance of 9/11 and observed a moment of silence in homerooms on Friday, Sept. 9, in remembrance of the victims and their families. They then viewed a compelling video on 9/11 shown over classroom closed-circuit televisions. The video was especially prepared by two South Middle teachers. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem.

Social studies classes at North High held discussions about 9/11, in terms of its historical implications, human tragedy, and heroism. In a school-wide address on Sept. 9, students were reminded about the two trees (planted several years ago) in the school's 9/11 Memorial Garden. They are symbolic of the Twin Towers and North's two graduates who died there&emdash;Firefighter Jonathan Ielpi and Andrew Stergiopoulos, who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald. This was followed by a moment of silence.

South High students were asked to "make a conscious effort to perform an act of kindness this [10th anniversary] weekend. Your act will serve as a reaffirmation of the sanctity of human life and a celebration of our ability to touch the lives of others in a positive way." Students were also informed about Great Neck's Memorial Service and many in social studies classes talked about the impact and memories of 9/11.

The Village School honored the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 with a school-wide meeting on Monday, Sept. 12. Paul Simon's rendition of "The Sound of Silence," performed at Ground Zero's Memorial Service, was followed by personal accounts by teachers and reflections on how the school responded to the event 10 years ago. A class currently being offered, "Mid-East Conflict," will serve to give students a historical perspective on how such an act could occur.


All-Star Band Participants

Three musicians from North High School were selected to perform in the All-Star High School Band of Long Island at the 9/11 Tenth Anniversary Memorial Ceremony and Concert Honoring First-Responders and Veterans, held at the US Merchant Marine Academy on Sunday, Sept. 18. Their music teacher at North High is Joseph Rutkowski. (South High musicians were unavailable to participate in the Concert.) Forty student musicians played in the All-Star Band, representing some 16 Long Island schools. The All-Star High School Band is newly formed under the auspices of Michael Leavitt (North High Class of 1962), president of the Band of Long Island. Both the All-Star Band and the Band of Long Island performed at the Memorial Concert under the direction of US Air Force Band Conductor Colonel Arnald D. Gabriel (Ret.).