The 12th Anniversary of September 11 was remembered with patriotic displays at Walnut and Diamond Bar High Schools.
About 30 Walnut High student volunteers placed nearly 3,000 flags in front of the campus after school on Wednesday. The Teen Republicans club, advised by social studies teacher Brett Landis, headed up the 3rd annual patriotic remembrance.
“The kids in these clubs just really love this country,” said Landis. Volunteers from the Young Democrats and National Honor Society joined the patriotic project on the school’s front lawn. The students respectfully placed flags in the shapes of 911 and the Pentagon in the 30 foot-long display.
Teen Republican’s President Junior Abraham Walayat is proud to continue the project that began on the 10th anniversary.
The club is making it their legacy by making the patriotic display an annual event, he said.
“The kids in these clubs just really love this country,” said advisor Landis. Members of the Teen Republicans, Young Democrats and National Honor Society clubs worked together on the project.
Even though these high school students were very young when the event occurred they are dedicated to paying tribute to the victims, Landis said.
“We can’t forget. This was a very important event and should definitely continue to be remembered,” Walayat said.
Young Democrats Club President Junior Misha Stouklov said he remembers only a little bit about the event, but has made it a point to learn about it.
“Our clubs are coming together for this display. I think it’s very important to pay tribute and remember the importance of the 9/11 event. It’s about reaching the community and making an impact,” he said.
Early that morning, Landis placed a flag with all of the victim’s names in the school office. The Flag of Honor was donated by a parent after he saw a previous flag display commemorating the anniversary of the nation’s tragedy.
“The man who gave it to me lost friends in the Tower and he asked if we could display it,” Landis said.
“It’s sad to see all the names. So many people died,” junior David Tragarz said.
“It’s a lot of people,” Timothy Yeung added.
For the past several years, Diamond Bar High School art teacher Dave Hamel has paid tribute on the anniversary of 9/11 with a display of white paper mache’ structures and sculptures including the Twin Towers, Pentagon, a somber life-size man in a chair and a (United Airlines Flight) 93 in the quad.
“A number of years ago I felt that students here were too unaware of what happened on 9/11, so that’s what led to this memorial,” Hamel said. Last year, he added a red bandana to the South Tower statue in tribute to a fallen hero, stockbroker Welles Crowther, who rescued an entire group of people from the 102nd floor down the smoke-filled staircase to safety.
“I needed something to make more of an impact to show the students what almost 3,000 people who lost their lives,” Hamel said about this year’s remembrance exhibit.
“So I thought ‘where am I going to get 3,000 things anyway?’“ Hamel said.
The answer came to him in his sleep. On September 10, he got to school, rolled out red butcher paper and said "start tearing" to his studio art class. Each student tore 300 jagged pieces. Then Hamel rolled out white butcher paper in his classroom and kept rolling until all the pieces were glued on. The finished dedication wall is 75 feet long. Hamel also painted the two red messages: “IGNORANCE KILLS” and ”2,996 TORN PIECES. 2,996 LOST LIVES.”
“The impact has been more than I thought,” he said. Hamel and several Diamond Bar High teachers brought their classes to the quad throughout the day to pause and remember.
High school students were between two and five years old when the terrorists attacked. Hamel said he wanted a visual way to show they how many people fell that day, how many people were torn apart.
“We’re educators and this is a learning opportunity. When I tell them the stories and give them the information, they are silent. It means much more,” he said.
“Each of these pieces represents one person. I wanted you to see it visually, its much more impactful that simply saying almost 3,000 people died,” Hamel told a class.
Freshman Darlene Cid, age 13, is a student in one of Hamel’s art classes that helped complete the project.
“We took glue sticks and helped. Mr. Hamel told us each piece of paper represented a life lost,” she said.
Sophomore Zack Valparaiso said he also grabbed a couple pieces of the red paper and glued them on.
“It’s not like just a bunch of pieces of paper. Mr. Hamel counted out exactly how many victims that died that day. It’s a memorial to them,” he said.