Randall Middle School Students Pay Tribute to 9/11 Victims

The school created a giant American flag on the front lawn of the campus using red, white and blue placards bearing the names of the victims of the terrorist attacks.

Their memories, if any, are hazy of that day.

After all, they were only toddlers when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

But now, at age 12 to 14, the students at Randall Middle School in FishHawk Ranch know there were exactly 2,986 victims of the terrorist attacks including one service dog. And they can recite many of the names of the people who perished that day.

That's because, for the past two weeks, the students have been printing out lists of names of the victims and applying them to markers, decorating them with stars and laminating them.

Then, on Friday, the students planted the markers in the ground of the front lawn of the school campus, 16510 Fishhawk Blvd., Lithia, to create a giant American flag made up of the names of all the victims of 9/11.

It was a project led by Randall teacher Kristy Verdi and her service learning class, although all 1,350 students in the school took part in creating the markers and affixing them on the school grounds to form a 150- by 80-foot American flag.

"It was quite an undertaking," said Verdi. "We were dedicated to accurately having markers for every single person who perished that day."

This is the second year Verdi and her class has headed the 9/11 project. Last year the students placed stars bearing the names of victims on skewers and placed them in the shape of a flag.

"This year, we got a little more elaborate and printed the names off the computer," said Verdi. "It was a real eye-opener for the students. They would enter "World Trade Center" into the computer and press "enter" to get a name. Each time they pressed "enter," a new human being would appear, someone who died that day."

With the help of her son, Tucker, a 10th-grader at Newsome High School, Verdi measured off an area on the front lawn with string and chalk to show where each colored marker should be placed. Then, one by one, the classes at Randall came out to affix two markers per student in the appropriate spots.

"There was a lot of math involved," said Verdi. "It was very complicated."

With the markers laminated, Verdi is hoping the display will last through the weekend.

"Every service project we do is assigned to a curriculum," said Verdi of her class. "In this case, the students were asked to find a way to honor our heroes of Sept. 11."

The project made a big impact on the students who barely remember that day.

Alisa Reneau, 12, was only 2 years old on that day but said she can still recall her mom watching television and crying.

Hunter Harvey, 14, remembers seeing the second plane strike the World Trade Center on television and having the sense that something horrible had just happened.

"My dad's friend was above the 100th floor in the World Trade Center," said Harvey. "When I was doing this project, I had to print out all the victims whose names started from A to C. It was so sad. There were so many names."

For Christina Beavers, 12, the events of 9/11 hit even closer to home. Her father was in a plane flying when the the attacks occurred. There was a period when her mother wasn't sure if her husband was on one of the planes that had been taken over by the terrorists.

Thirteen-year-old Julia Thomas' uncle worked near the World Trade Center, and she remembers her mom being concerned that he'd been caught in the destruction when the buildings came down.

"I was watching a video of the event yesterday, and it made me cry," said Thomas. "Then I read a story about a girl who lost her dad that day. I felt very upset."

Madison Dowdy, 13, said working on this project really brought home how many people perished that day.

"I didn't get the full effect of what happened until this year when we began running off all these lists of names," she said. "When you realize how many people were killed, you realize what a sad moment it was in history. It didn't really mean anything until now."

"When I was working on the list of victims from Flight 77, I saw the names of three or four children," said Nathan James, 12. "It really got to me. These kids would have been our age if they lived."


Heike House September 11, 2011 at 01:19 PM
I would love to see a picture of the completed flag. reading this story made me cry. Great job, Randall Middle School!
Alisa September 11, 2011 at 11:44 PM
I am in this group :) There is a picture of me cutting paper. But anyway i am so happy with the way the flap turned out.


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