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Sparta Elementary Students Remember 9/11, Celebrate First Responders

Sparta Elementary student

Brittany Jackson was in the first grade on September 11, 2001.

“I was actually home sick that day with my mom,” said the Sparta Elementary School teacher. “We were watching Sesame Street.” 

A family member called to ask if they’d heard the news - they hadn’t. A quick channel change to a news station and they were filled in.

“My mom was sobbing, and I didn’t understand,” Jackson said.

Nineteen years later, Jackson is now teaching students the same age she was when the two airplanes struck the Twin Towers in New York City. 

“I’m not only teaching kids who were the age I was, I’m teaching what happened during my lifetime,” she said. 

Jackson teaches a Functional Academics class of kindergarten, first and second grade students. On the 9/11 anniversary Friday, Jackson gave her young students a high-level overview of what had happened and focused on the role first responders played. 

“They got to make a thank you card for either a police officer, a firefighter or a soldier,” Jackson said showing off the students’ work. “One student told me he chose a soldier because that’s what he wants to be one day. He wants to help people.” 

Jackson also taught students how to contact these first responders via 9-1-1 in an emergency. 

“We pulled up a phone pad and showed them how to do that,” she said. “Many of my students have trouble communicating. Especially these kids need to be able to help themselves.” 

Down the hall, third grade teacher Grace Burgman was having her students create a remembrance quilt, decorated with crayons, markers and colored pencils.

“First we watched a YouTube video narrated by two kids that tells the events in a factual, child-friendly way,” Burgman said. “Although it’s tragic, it is part of our nation’s history. Just like they learn about all the wars we’ve fought, this has become part of our history.”

Third-grader Grace Thomas decorated her square with an American flag, but had changed the stars to hearts.

“I learned that there were other people on the plane and they were just normal people,” she said of the day’s lesson. “A bunch of people died that day.”

In Jennifer Hoelscher’s first grade class, students worked diligently on artwork depicting the American flag and a soldier. 

“We talk about community heroes and patriots,” Hoelscher said. “Many at this age are thinking about what they want to be when they grow up. We’re making sure they understand these people are important to our community.”

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September 11, 2020