Even though most of the children solemnly reflecting Friday morning in Nativity of Our Lord's back parking lot were born after September 11, 2001, they all felt the importance and necessity of the prayer service.
"A lot of that is from hearing stories from their parents," said eight grade social studies teacher Joan Cummings. "This isn't just a history lesson for them. They know how it has affected people firsthand."
The service began with a musical introduction from pianist and fourth grade teacher Trish Morris, music teacher Dan Myers on saxophone and soloist and third grade teacher Kathleen Anderson. Nativity Principal Roselee Maddaloni welcomed everybody, than turned over the mic to student readers that led prayers and read remarks honoring those who died in the attacks.
A veteran of the teaching profession, Cummings remembers where she was for two significant moments in our nation's recent history, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and World Trade Center attacks.
"I was right here 10 years ago, teaching class," said Cummings. "News started to trickle in, but we didn't alert our students right away. There were some with parents that worked in Manhattan, and we allowed them to go to the office and phone them to ensure they were safe."
Any parents that wanted to dismiss their children early were permitted to do so, otherwise the school completed a full day. Around 2 p.m. on that fateful Tuesday, students and teachers met at the church for a special prayer service.
Every year since then, the school recognizes the anniversary by having students plant flags around the 9/11 Memorial Tree that sits next to the Ellie Pomplas Playground.
For Cummings, when she talks about the World Trade Center attacks with her students, the focus is not so much on the who, the why and the how. She feels it's more important to focus on the aftermath, specifically how people changed their attitudes toward one another and God.
"It was such a tragedy," she said. "But there was some good that came from it. People came back to the church. We had a community-wide prayer service that night, and I'd never seen the church that full. We were more open to each other."