Washougal assemblies evoke Sept. 11

Students too young to remember are old enough to understand

By Ray Legendre, Columbian staff writer

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WASHOUGAL — When Washougal High social studies teacher Jim Reed asked students gathered for the school’s second assembly Friday morning how many were too young to remember 9/11, hands raised across the auditorium.

For the school’s freshmen, many of whom were four or five years old on Sept. 11, 2001, there are no memories of that dark day, just television clips and pictures. For many of them, the horrors of the day are as distant psychologically as Washougal is to New York City or Washington, D.C., geographically.

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Watch scenes from the Washougal High School assembly.

“It’s pretty easy for you guys to forget the events that unfolded on that day because you were pretty young,” Reed observed during the day’s first assembly, attended by sophomores and seniors.

Washougal High recognized the victims of 9/11 and the service members who have died in its aftermath with a performance from the school chorus, a poetry reading and a moment of silence. The presentation was an important illustration to students why Sunday’s 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people is so monumental, teachers said.

“They don’t really know what it was like that week, not to know what was coming,” choir teacher Jennifer Mahorney said.

The most striking moment of Friday’s assembly came in the form of a YouTube video featuring images of planes slamming into the Twin Towers, people jumping to their death from the burning buildings and mountains of smoke climbing toward the heavens over Manhattan. All are etched into the minds of those old enough to remember 9/11.

Freshman Crimson Morgan recalled her mother “freaking out” on that day, but noted she was too young to remember the events or make sense of them at the time. Morgan, 14, said the video impacted her the most because it showed how one event could “change the whole world’s history.”

Senior Jarrett Gregory, 18, described Friday’s program as both “powerful” and “sad.” He had few memories of life on 9/11.

“When I saw it on the TV, it didn’t really affect me as much because I didn’t understand what was going on,” Gregory said. His perspective has changed through the years, he noted. In particular, he has gained respect for the firefighters who risked their lives to rescue people from the burning towers.

The retrospective 9/11 video brought senior Marika Jenkins, 18, to tears prior to her poetry reading at the second assembly.

“Wow,” Jenkins exclaimed. “That was powerful.”

Jenkins’ poem touched upon how many lives ended prematurely on 9/11. It also expressed the uncertainty she and her classmates felt as elementary students learning about the attacks.

“We were just kids,” Jenkins read. “We did not know the meaning of this.”

Jenkins also participated in the school’s 42-member chamber choir, which sang a song called “Set me as a seal.” The eight-member Washougal High X-Tet Choir sang the national anthem at the program’s outset.

Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517; http://www.twitter.com/col_smallcities; http://www.facebook.com/raylegend; ray.legendre@columbian.com.