A Memorable & Moving Learning Experience for Wetherbee Students


On April 26, 2013, 7th–8th graders from Emily G. Wetherbee School in Lawrence, Massachusetts, traveled to New York City to visit the 9/11 Memorial as part of the school’s Movement Through Memorial project.

The trip, funded by a Sharing the Dream grant, had a powerful impact on students, who expressed their reactions in poignant narratives and artworks that were shared with the community at an evening event held on June 5, 2013.

Painting by a Wetherbee student, auctioned for $226 to benefit the 9/11 Memorial

Over the course of the school year, Movement Through Memorial encouraged students to explore through writing, poetry and art, themes of heroism and service, courage and resilience, cultural expressions of grief, and ways in which loved ones are remembered.

Project coordinator Lisa Stott described the field trip to New York City and the 9/11 Memorial as “emotional” and “a memorable learning experience [for students] that can never be taught in books.”

“This project is one they will never forget.”

Excerpt from “Next Stop: New York!” — a personal narrative by Wetherbee student, Liza Ruiz:

Water. It’s the first thing I saw, heard and felt upon getting to the Memorial. There was a huge group of people blocking my view of the pool but as soon as I got to the front, I understood why those people weren’t moving. The sight was enough to make any person stop in their tracks. Two huge pools with waterfalls on both sides, flooding down and draining into this vast square in the center. I was astonished. These two beautiful creations were nothing like I imagined them at all. I found myself leaning in, looking down into the pools and letting the cool water trickle onto my skin. As I was leaning in, I saw where my hands were resting. Names. These were the names of the victims of 9/11. I closed my eyes for a moment, letting myself not only pray for those victims, but also think about my own connection to this place. A connection I shared with no one that day.

My aunt worked in the Twin Towers but on September 11, 2011, she had gotten sick and called out of work that day. As I was watching over the pool, I realized how lucky I am. I closed my eyes again and just thanked God that my aunt’s name wasn’t along the sides of the pool. A small tear escaped and I quickly wiped it away before anyone could see.

On the ride back, I couldn’t stop reflecting. I never realized how much my aunt meant to me. Although I only see her a few times a year, I never imagined what would have happened if she didn’t call out of work sick that day. This experience taught me how much I value my family and how much I value my life and I couldn’t be more thankful to have been brought on such an inspiring trip.”

Click here to read Liza’s complete narrative.


Excerpt from “Holes with no Voices” –a personal narrative by Wetherbee student, Hanh Nguyen:

The very first thing that hit me was the mist. It sprayed across the planes of my face and soothed the burning of the fire that danced in the sky. My eyes feasted on the miraculous sight in front of me. My eye peered through the lens of my camera and snapped the images that my blood was giggly to bring home and present.

As I set my camera down, my hands brushed up against the warm metal plates that hemmed the pool like a frame to a painting. Names and identities were etched across the smooth metallic surface. They were holes that spoke only of what they were there for. They couldn’t say anything else. I read what I could because there were just so many, even for a calculator to know.

I wished to know them. I wished that some holographic projection would pop out and tell me about them. I wished that a radio would switch on and play the music of their voice, but it didn’t happen. It couldn’t happen. It would never happen. They weren’t here anymore and only had the empty hole on the metallic plates to speak for them.”

Click here to read Hanh’s entire narrative.

Read more about Wetherbee School’s Movement Through Memorial project in “25 Schools Across the U.S. win Sharing the Dream Grants,” posted January 16, 2013.

For ideas for how to talk to children about 9/11, click here.


1 Response to “A Memorable & Moving Learning Experience for Wetherbee Students”

  1. 1 dontbeafraidtoask June 22, 2013 at 2:29 am

    Excellent work, Denice! Thanks…it was a wonderful experience!

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Sharing the Dream

Grants for pre-K-8 school projects that create global classrooms where children—and families—can safely connect, exchange ideas and learn together.

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