Last Friday, the seniors of Springville-Griffith Institute walked across the school grounds and sat on silver bleachers that had been moved to a special area of the courtyard. All were looking at two objects: an enormous raised platform where representatives were gathering (including several teachers) and a massive object covered by a tarp.
All the other students and teachers were watching from school windows or on a live screening that was being shown to the entire Springville school district.
They all waited with bated breath.
Several things occurred leading to this event. Robert Valenti, a history teacher at the high school, learned that requests could be made for bits of scrap metal from the World Trade Center site and include them in sculptures dedicated to 9/1 1. Angela Ginnitti and Charlie Houseman, art teachers at the high school, decided to collaborate with Valenti to make this possible at Springville.
They held a competition for students in grades six to 12. Everyone who entered had to design a sculpture to honor those who were affected by the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The design had to include the scrap metal, and the students had to write a small description about their ideas.
They received 67 entries.
Dakoda Ball, a senior, had his simple yet meaningful design chosen. Each piece represents something that happened on 9/1 1.
The beam that was salvaged from ground zero was 12 feet long but it was cut in half and mounted in the middle of a circle to represent the twin towers. The circle represents unity and how Americans came together after the attacks. This structure stands upon a five-sided base to represent the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa.
After the design was chosen, the Springville community came together to help create the sculpture.
Tim Baumgartner, a technology teacher at Springville, devoted a large portion of his summer to help build the monument. Valenti's brother, Patrick, trucked the piece of scrap metal from New York City to Springville, where he was greeted by a crowd of cheering students from Springville Elementary waving American flags. Then five members of the varsity football team, helped by Valenti, unloaded the piece of metal from the truck. Many other citizens of Springville and the school also donated supplies and time.
The ceremony that was conducted last Friday included the school's Bella a Capella singing the Star Spangled Banner, a prayer and several speeches.
Valenti gave a moving speech about how today's high school students were so young when the attacks occurred, and how he heard that the now-juniors had released monarch butterflies into the skies for a school project just as the planes were flying into the towers. Several people said they had seen a monarch butterfly land on the memorial just after Valenti finished his story.
For more information about this memorial, visit http://www.springvillegi.org/webpages/911monument/index.cfm.
Alissa Roy is a junior at Springville Griffith Institute.