PHOTOS by TAMMI NAUDUS
By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Mary Aszklar, a teacher at Immanuel Lutheran School, remembers vividly where she was when she learned of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center 13 years ago on Sept. 11.
Around 9 a.m., that day, Aszklar recalled how Pastor Bridges (a former pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church) called all of the seventh and eighth grade teachers into a room to break the news. After bowing their heads in prayer, the seventh and eighth grade students and teachers watched the news in class to see what was actually happening.
Aszklar also recalled how the students expressed concern, as well as parents, who picked up their children early from school that day.
“I remembered being scared,” said Aszklar, who has taught at Immanuel Lutheran for over 20 years. “We didn’t know all of the facts.”
Every year after the tragedy, the school community has continued to honor the lives of 3,000 individuals who died on Sept. 11. But what started out as a memorial service in honor of those lives branched out into a more hands-on activity that gave students an opportunity to express appreciation for their local first responders.
Last Thursday, students in grades five through eight made cards for the Bristol Police and Fire departments. Each card included a customized message and a quote from a Bible passage. Messages like “Be strong and courageous,” and “Thank you for your service in protecting and helping our community” filled each card to offer police and fire officials comfort in the wake of an event that has touched everyone’s life. Eight students from the eighth grade class presented the cards to the first responders, as well as plates of baked goods— made by parents— and fruit.
Aszklar said the idea originated from students, and has become a tradition at the school.
“We wanted to do something special,” said Aszklar, adding how they wanted to continue commemorating the lives that were lost that day while doing something positive for the community. “Grief is difficult. Today, there are 3,000 families still mourning.”
Students who presented the cards and treats included Erika Santilli, Ben Jabs, Caleb Beaudoin, Morgan Moliengo, Morgan Bielert, Anthony Buonafede, Myah Croze, and Michelle Helming.
Although the students were not able to remember the tragedy itself, Ben Jabs and Morgan Moliengo said the activity served as a great way for them to personally thank the men and women who risk their lives every day to help the community. Morgan said she chose a Bible passage that centered on receiving protection from the God during times of trouble. Ben chose a similar theme for his card, which included a message from Psalm 18, “The Lord is my rock.”
“It is teaching us to be thankful for first responders and to extend out into the community,” said Ben, adding how the card message he chose fit well with honoring the first responders who may face challenging duties everyday.