Students Design a 9/11 Memorial for NCHS

AP United States history students discover "there is nothing as remote as the recent past."

"What did 9/11 mean to you on that day and what does it mean to you ten years after?"

Richard Webb, the chair of 's social studies department posed this question to his advanced placement United States history students. 

Fifty juniors working in teams are designing their own vision of a New Canaan 9/11 memorial and will submit their proposals by June 20. One design will be constructed next year at the high school.

"It's the ten year anniversary and these kids were seven years old when Sept. 11 happened," Webb told About Town. "It's a way to connect to a part in history that's going to influence the rest of their lives."

The students researched past national memorials of American Wars — from the abstract Vietnam memorial to the realistic sculptural memorials of World War II and Korea.  

Using Google Sketch and Google Earth, they generated architectural renditions of their ideas and placed them at a site in the town of New Canaan that reflects their memorial's purpose and narrative.

"Few tasks are more painful than designing a memorial. How can we best honor those fallen?" Webb asked while encouraging his students to design something that has personal and emotional meaning "for you, if not your audience."

Megan Paul was teamed with Sophie Ponchak.

"The goal for our design is to capture the essence of the tragedy and reflect it in the memorial in a positive way that promotes national unity," Paul said.

"I'm trying to incorporate different aspects of previous war memorials into the 9/11 memorial while individualizing it for the town of New Canaan and what their experiences were," Michael DeMattia explained.      

John Santoro thought it would be "a good idea to incorporate the names of the victims and their families in the context of New Canaan and be relevant to the town."

Jackson Busch added, "We wanted to capture the tragedy of the day while providing a message that is positive and uplifting."

"What's at the site of 9/11 now?" Webb asked. "The fact that nothing is there may say something about ourselves and our uncertainty about the war on terror."

The students' memorial design project is part of a course of study leading up to NCHS's "September 11, 2011 Ten Years After" symposium which will be held next Sept. 27.

Two of the event's scheduled four speakers are from New Canaan.

Wendy Hilboldt, a parent, teacher and member of the  immediately drove to Ground Zero and watched many of her first responder "brothers and sisters" perish.

Author Bonnie McEneaney's husband Eamon McEneaney, a father of four children, never came home.

"On 9/11, all I could think about was the enormity of the tragedy; how the events of that day shattered the lives of so many families and changed the way we view our national security," McEneaney said.

"Today, however, what I reflect on the most is the resilience of the human spirit," said McEneaney who serves on the board of .

The students, armed with unlimited food for thought, have been challenged to create something extraordinary.

"It's all about your imagination," Webb told them."Think about it. Dream about it."   

Duffy Sasser May 27, 2011 at 11:13 PM
If you are looking for inspiration please feel free to stop by at the Firehouse as we have an actual piece of steel from the Trade Center. Our plan is to incorporate this twisted beam into a 9/11 Memorial. The steel beam is on display on the main apparatus floor which faces Main Street. Maybe one of your designs can be put to use in our memorial efforts...
Stephen N .Parrett May 27, 2011 at 11:28 PM
New Canaan Fire will be trailering the World Trade Center Artifact to the entrance of the Lakeview Cemmetery for all to see. The artifact will be at the Main Street and Millport intersection all morning on Memorial Day and through out the parade. After that, it will remain on display at its temporary home in New Canaan Fire headquarters. Visitors will be welcomed when ever the apparatus bay doors are open. Thank you, Stephen N. Parrett President, New Canaan Fire Company #1
Eugenie Diserio May 31, 2011 at 02:35 AM
Thank you Duffy and Stephen for commenting on the story. I saw the artifact today at the firehouse and it's presence is subtle and profound. Hopefully Richard Webb will suggest his AP US history students view it and consider incorporating it into their New Canaan 9/11 memorial designs.
Richard Webb June 03, 2011 at 12:26 AM
Eugenie- you are the best! Mr. Parrett and Mr. Sasser, we'll try to coordinate with what you have- an honor for us to do so. Thanks for all you do for the community! Richard Webb


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