The special needs children of PS 811Q Marathon School wanted to do something positive to honor the heroes and those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
After a heartwarming and moving assembly program inside the auditorium, which included poetry readings, patriotic songs and a slide show of everyday heroes, several classes went to the front of the school building on Marathon Parkway for a tree planting ceremony as a tribute to those who lost their lives and to make sure we never forget.
The children, all of whom have severe disabilities, planted the tree and carefully placed small American flags around it representing every class in our school. You can imagine our dismay upon returning to school the next morning and finding a hole in the ground where the blue spruce was planted just hours before!
The lessons learned on this day shifted from tributes and remembrance to trust and betrayal. The children were visibly upset during the busing time as the teachers calmly tried to explain that sometimes the respect we show to others is not always returned. Discussions about property, vandalism and theft followed and continued throughout the day.
When city officials learned that the children’s memorial had been stolen, they quickly provided a new tree. While the second tree cannot replace the first, the students have learned that when bad things happen, there are good people out there who will try to help.#
Joan Washington is principal of PS 811Q, the Marathon School.