On Monday, September 11, I.S. 259 William McKinley, 7301 Fort Hamilton Parkway, was host to a day filled with commemorations and lessons for its middle school students on the largest terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Jessica Amato, an English teacher at the school, arranged for 9/11 Memorial Museum docent Sharyn Yansko to speak to students about the attack that claimed thousands of lives, going into detail with slideshows and stories of the day that 19 terrorists hijacked four airplanes, two of which slammed into the One and Two World Trade Center.
“As an American and a New Yorker, I was outraged that we were attacked and determined that we would continue our way our life and not be terrorized,” she explained.
Community leaders and elected officials were also on hand, including Assemblymember Pamela Harris, Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann, aide to Congressmember Dan Donovan, Fran Vella-Marrone, and aide to State Senator Marty Golden, John Quaglione.
Afterwards, eighth grade students Benjamin Forni and Jeanie Tramontano gave students and guests a tour of the school’s impressive and touching memorial and mural that pay tribute to both the victims and the heroes of 9/11 who lost their own lives attempting to save others. The mural, created by students, teachers and alumni, took years to complete and was unveiled in 2012.
The mural begins on the third floor with a painting of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, leading into a hallway that features poems, art, and the names of fallen heroes.
“Students painted the American flag and it took them months to get every line straight and get it right,” said Tramontano. “One of the poems,” she added, “says ‘All gave some and some gave all.’ This means that everyone tried to help and some gave their lives.”
In addition, a painting inspired by Michelangelo — also created by students — represents how individuals tried to help those in need. A firefighter’s helmet is also painted on one of the walls with the number 343, the number of firefighters that died on 9/11.
Several fragments from the World Trade Center that were donated to the school were also on display, including steel, glass and a cross found at Ground Zero.
Quaglione was impressed by the students’ eagerness to learn. “It’s hard to believe that children in middle school were born after September 11,” he said. “For them, it is just something in the history books. To bring it here, tell a personal story and show pictures of people that actually died and to hear about the heroism is special, because you don’t want it ever to happen again.”
“The museum is going to be so impressed,” added Yansko. “On my way out, I want to take pictures of the mural. These kids are fabulous. The fact the school has its own memorial and mural is just astounding. I’m really surprised and pleased because that’s a living way to remember as kids walk past it all the time. They’ll never say they never heard of it.”