Middle School Humanities Students Learn From 9/11 Displays

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In remembrance of 9/11, all seventh-grade students at Merrick Avenue and Grand Avenue Middle Schools in the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District interacted in a humanities lesson delivered by English and social studies teachers. 

During their humanities block, students at Merrick Avenue participated in a gallery walk and discussion about ordinary, heroic citizens’ efforts to aid those affected by the tragedy, and later, the artwork that was created to memorialize the day.  

The students will analyze images of art and memorials using a technique from the National Constitution Center’s exhibit, “9/11: A Nation Remembers.”  The images displayed are from Duke University’s “Flesh & Metal, Bodies & Buildings: Works from Jonathan Hyman’s Archive of 9/11 Vernacular Memorials.”

Principal Dr. Taryn Johnson explained, “students learned about America’s social and cultural responses to the events of this day by analyzing the public memorials created across the American landscape in the days, months and years after the attacks. These displays continue to serve as a symbol of enduring hope.”

“One of the central themes of the lesson is reflective of the values we embody as members of the Bellmore-Merrick community and as Americans — in times of tragedy and difficulty, we seek to help each and to connect with kindness and caring,” said Kate Caporusso, social studies chairperson.

In one of the first co-taught Humanities lessons at Grand Avenue, Rebecca Levy (English teacher) and Daniel Rummenie (social studies teacher) explored the concepts of kindness and selflessness through two different events of 911.  

Rummenie presented a clip called "The Red Bandanna" about a young man who risked and lost his life while getting others out of the towers on 9/11. He was later identified because of the red bandanna that he always carried. Ms. Levy presented a song called Bedding and Blankets from the musical "Come From Away."  

“This explores the extraordinary selflessness of the residents of Gander, Newfoundland,” explained Principal Carlo Conte. “It was here and the residents only totaling about 10,000, took in approximately 7,000 passengers from diverted NY flights. It was a powerful lesson and it was masterfully presented. It was an excellent springboard into our newly redesigned seventh grade humanities program.”

English chairperson Adeline Atkins added, “this lesson demonstrates how we collectively respond to tragedy — on 9/11 and the days and months afterward, we banded together to help one another. These images and stories about those who came to the aid of others and the artwork that was later created is a beautiful example of who we are and how we express our shared humanity.”

Eighth-grade students also explored the theme of connecting with kindness and caring as they looked at ordinary heroes.  
“Students examined the story of the boat lifters and the town of Gander as case studies of these groups in their social studies classes,” added Caporusso.