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Goddard students form flag to remember Sept. 11

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Sep. 7, 2011, at 11:32 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011, at 7 a.m.

Nine years ago, students at Amelia Earhart Elementary School in Goddard dressed in red, white and blue, arranged themselves in the shape of an American flag and posed for a photo to commemorate the first anniversary of Sept. 11.

On Wednesday, the school reprised the photo to mark the 10th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon — with students who weren't born when it happened.

"This is important because it just played a big part" in history, said 9-year-old Kaitlyn Burris, a fourth-grader at Earhart.

She wore a red shirt and stood with classmates in the school parking lot to form one of the seven red stripes of the human flag.

A gaggle of blue-shirted, wiggly kindergartners formed the field of stars in the upper-left corner. Rows of red- and white-shirted children and teachers lined up as the stripes.

Miracle Sign Co. donated a bucket truck and crew to raise a photographer more than 60 feet to capture the flag photo.

Principal Natalie Rust said the school "wanted to do a tribute to 9/11," and re-creating the flag photo was a way for even young children to participate and show patriotism.

"I watched one of our third-grade teachers explain (Sept. 11) to her class, and she just said, 'This is history, and it's important that we keep it alive.'... It's something we need to learn about."

An enlargement of the first human flag photo, taken by parent Jill Ward in September 2002, hangs on a wall in the school's main entryway. Ward was at the school again Wednesday to capture the anniversary photo.

"My kids were part of the first class to go through Earhart, and they're in high school now," she said. "I can't believe it's been 10 years."

Kindergarten teacher Ann Wells said she talked with her students about the importance of the flag and the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance they say each morning.

The group of about 300 children recited the pledge again Wednesday as they stood in the parking lot, hands over their hearts.

Wells said students sometimes ask her about Sept. 11 because they hear about it on the news or from family members. She tries to keep her responses honest and simple, she said.

"I tell them there were some bad people who crashed planes into buildings," she said.

Focusing on heroism and patriotism, the focus of Wednesday's human flag tribute, keeps the lesson positive, Wells said.

"We tell them this is our way to honor the people of Sept. 11."

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com.

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