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Schools in Forsyth County plant red maple trees to mark 20th anniversary of 9/11
Red maple tree
Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden was joined by Chief Facilities Officer Matt Wark, Board of Education Chairwoman Kristin Morrissey, Vice Chair Wes McCall, ACE Principal Drew Hayes and FoCAL Director Dawn Phipps to lower a red maple tree into the ground on Tuesday, Sept. 7. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Forsyth County Schools leaders gathered on Tuesday, Sept. 7, for a ceremony outside the district office in remembrance of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden began the ceremony by recounting the events from the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 11 first struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City at 8:47 a.m.

Just 17 minutes later, citizens across the nation watched in horror as United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower.

In the span of the next hour, American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, as the passengers fought off the terrorists who hijacked the plane and had planned to hit another American target.

Nearly 3,000 Americans died that day, including hundreds of servicemen and women who fought to save others’ lives.

“Never forget,” became a shared phrase across the entire nation as Americans mourned those who were lost.

Now, 20 years later, FCS plans to continue the tradition of remembering those Americans.

Bearden announced during the ceremony that each of the district’s 41 schools and the Professional Development Center will plant a red maple tree on their campus “to recognize the fortitude and resilience of our great nation in the face of unimaginable tragedy.”

The schools are all encouraged to hold their own small, outdoor remembrance ceremony to plant the tree either on Friday, Sept. 10, or Monday, Sept. 13.

After his speech, Bearden and other school and district leaders planted a red maple tree outside of the Forsyth County Schools district office.

“Red maples were selected because of their capability to survive almost any kind of soil type, and they are among the first trees to bloom in the spring,” Bearden said.

Bearden was joined by Chief Facilities Officer Matt Wark, Board of Education Chairwoman Kristin Morrissey, Vice Chair Wes McCall, Drew Hayes, the principal of Academies for Creative Education and FoCAL Director Dawn Phipps to lower the new red maple tree into the ground.

Outside of these small ceremonies, each FCS facility flew flags at half-staff on Saturday, Sept. 11, in remembrance.

“Forsyth County Schools will never forget the lives that were lost or the heroes who worked so hard to save as many lives as possible,” Bearden said.

Red maple tree
A plaque was placed in front of the red maple tree to remind onlookers of the purpose behind the natural monument. The same plaque will be placed in front of the tree planted at each of Forsyth County's schools. - photo by Sabrina Kerns
Jeff Bearden
Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden recounts the events of Sept. 11, 2001, during a ceremony held outside of the district office. - photo by Sabrina Kerns