Each of Liberty Middle School’s students walked to the front of the school in the heat of the afternoon on Wednesday, Sept. 8, clutching an American flag in their hands.
The sixth-grade students came out first, carefully placing flags into a wooden slot made from planks placed in front of the building. They were followed by the seventh- and eighth-grade students, who took part in this same tradition the year before.
By the end of the ceremony, the front of the school was covered in red, white and blue.
“Twenty years ago, on Sept. 11, 2001, our building was under construction, with plans to open its doors to students the following August,” Principal Amanda Thrower said. “In tribute to the first responders and victims who lost their lives on that tragic day, we were named Liberty, home of the Patriots.”
The staff and students at Liberty take a day to honor those lost every September, never forgetting the story behind their school’s name.
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Now, the students at Liberty weren’t yet born that morning when al-Qaeda terrorists flew two Boeing 767s into the World Trade Center Towers in New York City and another two Boeing 757s into the Pentagon and into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
They weren’t there the day nearly 3,000 Americans died, including the hundreds of servicemen and women who fought to save as many lives as possible.
Even so, the significance of the day was not lost on them.
“My parents always talk about every year what they remember from back then,” one student said. “And I feel kind of proud that Liberty was actually named [in tribute to] Sept. 11.”
The school usually holds an assembly each year for guests and speakers to visit and take part in the community remembrance, but with COVID-19 guidelines restricting group gatherings and visitors, school leaders decided against an assembly.
Instead, the school’s fine arts department took part in digital performances that students could enjoy from their classrooms.
Thrower said she was grateful that students could also still take part in the school’s tradition of placing flags outside of the school.
As each student filed back inside on Wednesday, hundreds of flags flew in front of the school. They will remain on display there through Monday, Sept. 13, and on Sept. 11, the school will fly its main flag at half-staff in remembrance of those lost during the attacks 20 years ago.
“Our Patriot Day traditions are among our most important practices because they represent who we strive to be as a school,” Thrower said. “Instilling the importance of community and the values of service and gratitude in our students.”