By Tamas Mondovics
For the 15 years since the tragic events of the morning of September 11, 2001, people around the world have found various ways to remember, honor or pay special tribute to the 2,996 victims of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Last month, more than 1,500 students at Randall Middle School, located at 16510 Fishhawk Blvd., in Lithia, once again honored those who lost their lives at the school’s annual 9/11 Patriot Day Memorial. The memorial, made up of markers created for each victim and placed in the form of the American Flag, takes place on the school’s front lawn.
“This is a very important event for us,” said Randall Middle School Social Studies Teacher, Kristy Verdi. “No student in our school was born on that day, so they have no memory of the event. Our project educates our students about the events, but also encourages them to look to make good things happen in honor of those lost.”
Verdi explained that usually participating students spend three days in social studies class preparing the biographies for victims and learning about the events and its consequences.
The Randall Middle School R.A.Y.S. Council started the project in 2008 using paper stars on wooden skewers. Markers were hand-made but took too much time away from instruction. To show its support, area developer, Newland Communities donated permanent markers in 2014.
The project expanded to include solar lights, made by the Randall STEM Club, for the 50 stars this year. In addition to creating the markers, this year each social studies student was challenged to do a “good deed” on September 11 in honor of a victim.
“Students were given reflection cards to return on Monday to tell about their experience and how it made them feel,” Verdi said.
“This memorial is a great reminder for all of us who weren’t there or who were too young to remember,” said Randall Middle School eighth grade student Kelsey Traxler. “This is something that should never be forgotten and I hope that this memorial continues for every generation.”
The annual memorial has not gone without notice over the years as several local and national organizations including Remember, Honor, Support Foundation (based in Tampa Bay) have honored this project, while TrueHero.org, chose the memorial as its national Middle School Project of the Year in 2014. In 2012, the national organization Kids Voting USA recognized the memorial with its Impact Award.
The Randall 9/11 Patriot Day Memorial was on display for several days and enjoyed a steady flow of visitors from around the community. Contact the school at 740-3900 for more information. For more details about FishHawk Ranch, go to www.fishhawkranch.com.