'It's important to remember': Aurora school honors victims of 9/11 attacks
The Beacon-News. David Sharos. September 11, 2017.

For students at Fred Rodgers Magnet Academy in Aurora, the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, are a part of history that happened before they were born.

On Monday, the school held a special ceremony to honor the victims of the attacks and let students know how important it is to learn about the tragic events of that day 16 years ago.

Kevin Meadows, a naval science instructor who works at East Aurora High School, supervised the color guard at the event and said "having a remembrance is always a plus."

"I think we all tend to do better when we are prepared for something and by telling people about the things of the past, your hope is they won't have to relive it," Meadows said. "It's important to remember those who have been lost from that day as this is now a part of American history like anything else students have studied for decades."

Meadows said he was working as a recruiter on that day and that "everything went crazy."

"We were all called and asked where our men were and to keep them with us," Meadows recalled. "I like to feel in some ways we're safer now, because we're never going to let our guard down again."

The school's gymnasium was filled with Magnet school students and parents who came to remember the attacks.

Xarely Chaves, 13, an eighth-grader, said the events of 9/11 "are a part of history" and that hopefully "we won't repeat our mistakes."

"I think airports are safer now, but I also feel like people used to trust one another more before this all happened," Chaves said. "I think we are safer in some ways now because people have to be checked, but I wish sometimes they didn't have to be."

Sarai Gonzales, who is also 13 and an eighth-grader, said her mother was in the hospital when the attacks occurred and that "she told us about the planes and the videos."

"It was bad that the planes were hijacked and I feel that was something really scary like we are having now with the hurricanes and earthquakes," Gonzales said. "Sometimes, I feel scared about what will happen next."

Ann Schubert of Aurora came as a resident Monday to experience the program. She said "it was important to be here this morning to remember all those lives."

"I've sort of forgotten that for the children here, there weren't any of these experiences in their lifetime, and you really never know what their lives are going to be like," Schubert said. "Whenever you think about it, it was a sad day."

Sixth-grade science teacher Shaista Khan said she hoped students would come away from Monday's experience "with the caring part of it."

"The caring part of this is what was important and that we are always united when we are caring for each other," Khan said. "It's like today when we have a natural disaster. That was a political, man-made disaster but we were united just the same."

Daniel Holhut, band director at Fred Rodgers Magnet Academy, said he has organized a 9/11 activity in a District 131 school "for at least 10 years."

Holhut said he wanted to make the school's third-graders "the target audience" by offering a short summary of the events from 9/11 so that they understand the importance of the day.

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