RHS September 11 Tribute

by DAN ZANG
Principal, Rockford High School

“Our enemies have made the mistake that America’s enemies always make. They saw liberty and thought they saw weakness,” President George W. Bush.

Very shortly we will start a new academic year at Rockford High School (RHS). It is very exciting to see not only our students come back to campus but to also welcome countless parents, guests and visitors. We are very proud of our longstanding tradition of excellence at Rockford Public Schools and our facility here at RHS.

All who visit will soon see a patriotic display in remembrance of the September 11 attack on the United States. We were looking to redesign our front main office foyer at the high school and wanted it to be a theme that symbolized the spirit and resolve of our great country.

As building principal at RHS, I have been involved and played witness to great events here at our school. Our staff and students are involved in many great causes here in Rockford, Kent County, and beyond.

One such project our students were involved in last year was the West Michigan Healing Fields located at Cannonsburg Ski Area. Our students assisted in carrying and setting some of the 3,200 flags representing the lives lost on that somber day. Although many of our students were too young to recall exact memories of the attack, they were certainly aware of the impact on our country. All of our students were proud to have served in the Healing Fields project.

Many flags from the Healing Fields project will be proudly displayed at RHS. Four flags will be incorporated into our design in the front foyer. These flags were ceremonially folded by members of the U.S. Marine Corps and placed in flag displays. The flags are in loving memory of four New York residents whose lives were lost on Sept. 11, 2001: Jason DeFazio, 29, Ivan Perez, 37, Michael Weinberg, 34, and William Wik, 44.

Other facts and points of pride regarding our display include:

•            RHS Art students, under the direction of RHS Art Instructor Barb Kent, created the vision and shared in the design of the project.

•            Hands spell out COURAGE in American Sign Language to represent how our country stood silent at the surprise of the attack but gained courage to move forward. The newspaper covering the hands symbolizes all the stories written about 9/11 and how it changed America. The hands are painted with stars and stripes to show unity.

•            The courage quote that tops the display was chosen by RHS Social Studies teachers and is from author Ambrose Redmoon’s “No Peaceful Warriors!” His famous quote reads, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”

•            Tiles spell out the word COURAGE in red, white and blue as well as in orange and black to signify pride for our country and school.

•            Shattered glass surrounds the word COURAGE to represent all the lives that were shattered by the horrific act of terrorism.

•            The multimedia background is done in black and white because it combines past images of the twin towers with current rebuilding of the area. Two lights were installed inside the display to illuminate the project as well as symbolize the twin towers. The print is also layered with a photo of one of our school flags flying on our baseball field.

Our current plan is to formally dedicate our new project on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 8:46 a.m. Please feel free to stop by Rockford High School and see the project for yourself. I am so proud of all the students and staff that made this vision come to reality.

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