Hurricane Irma changed the course of Randal Middle School memorial to victims of 9/11. Randall will have a collection drive the week of September 18th in an effort to help the community recover from the hurricane. Patriot Day and Veterans Day will now be conjoined on a November 8th ceremony in honor and memory of the 9/11 victims, veterans and troops.
"Our group will be assisting with a collection next week to help support local communities hit by the hurricane," said Dr. Kristy Verdi, service learning coordinator at Randall Middle School. "In November, we will aim our collection towards the Veterans Hospital."
Sixteen years later, the images from September 11, 2001, remained clear in the minds of Americans who watched the terrorist attacks unfold. For students at Randall Middle School, who weren’t born at the time, it’s a heart-breaking lesson they're taught in the classroom about the lives lost and the day that changed the country.
On Patriot Day, the school in Lithia planned on remembering the victims of 9/11 with a giant flag made up of markers each bearing a victim’s name. For the first time this year, they were also adding an after-school supply drive to collect items to send to troops serving overseas and give to local veteran’s hospitals.
“In Social Studies, all of our students participate in researching and writing biographies on the victims of 9/11. In class they learn about 9/11 and the effects it’s had on our country, both good and bad: the pulling together of people, but also transportation has been greatly impacted. The TSA [Transportation Security Administration] is a direct result of 9/11. If we don’t teach them about it, they stay in the dark,” said Verdi.
“It’s really sad what happened, and it’s really changed the U.S. today. There were a lot of people who died and a lot of people who need to be remembered,” said Randall seventh-grade student, Kaley Kugler.
On September 11, each student would have taken two markers outside, including one with the biography they created. They would have placed the markers in the framework and by the end of the day, a huge memorial flag would have covered the front lawn of the school. It’s organized by Dr. Verdi and students in the academic elective class called R.A.Y.S., Randall Area Youth Service.
This year, Patriot Day was met with an unwelcomed visitor. R.A.Y.S. will now focus on helping its community as well as veterans from the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. "We will work with Veteran Affairs to see if we can make sure local veterans also receive assistance during this collection," said Verdi. "Our main effort will be about helping our community recover from Irma."