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© Gail Underwood Parker

Monday, September 12, 2011

School Bell: September 11th School Slide Show

Pearl Harbor Day was indelibly etched in the minds and hearts of the country on Dec 7, 1941.  September 11, 2001 was also etched.

I was teaching 5th grade at the time. As part of our response my class started a project to send cards to the workers at Ground Zero.  In less than a week our  class and a few others had created over 300 individual cards and letters and I drove from Maine to NYC one weekend to deliver them. I took photos during the time in NY and made a power point slide show for my students and their parents. The focus is on the compassion and the response across the country and world to the events of 9/11.  There are no photographs of the World Trade Center buildings collapse. [There is one slide that shows pictures posted on an outdoor board of one of the fire trucks at Ground Zero and there is one slide of a dump truck carrying concrete fragments. ] I wanted the children to focus on the shared compassion and kindness and the sense of one-family that grew out of the tragedy.

Because of my class' desire to connect with the rescuers there are photos of them and description of how I met and talked with them.  My class went on to send packages and notes almost weekly to one particular firehouse and one particular police officer for the entire school year.
Brownies, salt water taffy, cookies, class-made sea glass ornaments from sea glass gathered off our beaches, photos, patches, flags, all kinds of things went back and forth in the boxes and letters between the firehouse, the police units, and my group of 5th graders in Maine. And the children got letters several times a month in return.  I am still in touch with two of the letter-writers ten years later! There was also a second visit to the firehouse by me in the spring, and a June 2002 trip to Maine by one of the firemen correspondents to meet the students that had become friends over that year. He has made return visits as well... including his honeymoon!  The students learned the power of even a ten year old to make a huge difference even in the middle of enormous events and learned the human side of both tragedy and compassion.

Click here to get to slide show. The slide show link will be on the right hand side of your screen when it opens just below the clickable Power Point download. I hope you will view it and enjoy this slightly different perspective of 9/11 on this 10th anniversary.

A GREAT online resource forparents and teachers of  kids grades 5-12 offers  "inspiring stories of individuals who were directly impacted by September 11, 2001 and who, in response, developed projects to help make this world a more peaceful, tolerant place."  They can be found at the World Trade Center Toolkit with videos and even lesson plans.


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