Paulsboro High remembers 9/11

Art teacher Margaret LaDue's brother worked across from the World Trade Center in 2001.
Art teacher Margaret LaDue's brother worked across from the World Trade Center in 2001. (DAVID M WARREN / Staff Photographer)
Posted: September 12, 2013

PAULSBORO This year's seniors at Paulsboro High School had recently started kindergarten when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon 12 years ago.

Their impressions of that day are limited, yet vivid. They recall scared teachers, leaving school early, mothers crying, and disturbing television images.

"I just remember coming home, and my mom was in a panic. She was crying. She just didn't look like herself," said Brittany Myers, who started kindergarten when she was 4. "She was kind of afraid what would happen after the Twin Towers."

Tuesday, as in years past, Paulsboro High students created a memorial for the anniversary of the attack. This year's is called "Reflecting Absence," named after the Manhattan memorial.

Art teacher Margaret LaDue has inspired her students to honor those lost on Sept. 11, 2001. Her brother, David, worked across the street from the World Trade Center, in the financial industry. When he arrived, the first tower was on fire.

He watched as the second tower was struck by an airplane and scrambled for safety when the first building collapsed. He was covered with ash, LaDue said. No longer working in New York, he is reluctant to talk about that day.

As each year passes, there are fewer memories and vague images among Paulsboro students. The Class of 2014 is the last of those who have attended classes since the attacks. This year, all 527 students at the school and staff were invited to participate in creating the memorial.

LaDue's art class gave out foil squares to those who wanted to honor any lost loved ones. Some returned more than one. Grandparents, friends, pets, and rock stars were among the names. About 800 squares were used.

The students used the squares to create a foil collage in the shape of the towers, which was taped against a red, white, and blue backdrop. Black construction paper outlined the art. Pictures of New York's reflection pools were taped nearby.

The project was meant to look forward while honoring the past, LaDue said.

The students talked about the significance of 9/11 as they worked on the project Tuesday.

"We think it's important to remember stuff like this happened because then we can know how to protect ourselves in the future," said senior Stephanie Harris, who put on foil the name of her grandmother Mary Harris, who died in 2002.

Harris is proud that her school keeps alive the memories of those who died. Last year, she helped create a memorial with the names of all the 9/11 victims written on abstract black shapes taped along the walls of a hall. She said it was meant to conjure up images of the ash that fell on 9/11.

Senior Isaac Boris said he remembers the news on his aunt's television. "That's about all I remember," Boris said.

Senior Roxanne Ruggieri said her mother picked her up early from kindergarten.

"I remember watching my mother cry in front of the TV," Ruggieri said while taping foils together. "She came and took me home. I was scared. I was confused why my mom wasn't at work."

Paulsboro journalism teacher Ashley O'Hara was a senior at Paulsboro High during the attacks. Her choir teacher turned on a television with the students gazing as the second plane struck.

"I don't think I ever heard our entire choir class completely quiet," O'Hara said.


Contact Barbara Boyer at 856-779-3838, bboyer@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @BBBoyer.

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