The World Trade Center’s 110 stories is the equivalent to 159 trips up the Central High School football field’s home grandstand. On Monday, 206 participants made that trek, mostly in teams, during the school’s 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb and Walk, raising $600 in donations.
Participants in the event included students, staff, community members and a surprise arrival of six firefighters from local departments in Chebanse, Ashkum and Papineau. The funds raised will be split between local fire departments and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, which inspired the event.
Civics teacher Rebecca Swigert-Fencon, who organized the service project, said the event was aimed to be a way for the students to learn and remember a historic moment in United States history combined with a way to give back to the community.
“Having them see the firefighters out here climbing the stairs and hearing the students say they had chills from watching them is really meaningful and exactly what we wanted them to get out of this,” she said. “This is bigger than just an assignment that goes in the grade book, this is something that is so meaningful.”
Students helped to plan the event and reached out to the community along with participating in a webinar on Friday hosted by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York, which offered a collection of first-person accounts and guest speakers from the museum among other interactive segments.
One student, senior Kamryn Jemar, said seeing the firefighters walk the stairs in full uniform with them was memorable.
“I’m guessing it reminded some of them just how much of an impact they make on us, because they definitely do,” he said.
Chebanse Township Fire Chief Tim Kent, a firefighter since 1993, said seeing the students participate in the climb, or walk the distance around the track, showed a huge amount of respect.
“We’ve got firemen that are out here walking that were just 1 year old when it happened,” Kent said. “It’s good to see that they’re out here. My biggest hope is that they don’t forget.”
That sentiment was echoed by many staff and community members — never forget.
“It’s still surreal to me that these students weren’t alive,” Swigert-Fencon said. “It needs to be remembered; it can’t go away. By doing this, it doesn’t go away.”