LINDEN, NJ - Linden High School and Allen High School in Allen, Texas, renewed their long-standing partnership on Tuesday, Sept. 11, through a teleconference marking the anniversary of 9/11.
The featured speaker was John Lara, who was 24-year Navy veteran and a White House chef
on 9/11 and later spent time as a teacher at Allen High School. He spoke from Allen and was
viewed on a large screen at the LHS Academy of Science and Technology by staff and students
involved in the Peer Pals program, as well as other guests.
Lara told of being sent to the bunker beneath the White House with Vice President Dick Cheney
and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and of a close friend who lost his son on the plane
that crashed into the Pentagon.
“I’m humbled to be here and to see that generations, year after year, learn about 9/11 and the
aftermath,” he said.
The “Tale of Two Cities” program between Linden and Allen grew out of the aftermath of 9/11,
when students and staff from Allen reached out to a school in the Northeast in a gesture of
Joseph Cataline, a technology specialist in Linden, told of how the program started after the
ceremony. He met Linda Snap of Allen at a technology conference and she reached out to him
after the attack.
“She said, ‘Joe, I know how close to New York City you are,’ ” he recalled. “She said, ‘The kids
here are so wrapped up in what’s happening in the Northeast. Would you like to put something
together about 9/11?’ ”
Linden High School Principal Yelena Horré spoke about how the partnership of the two schools
makes something great out of something tragic.
“That something like this can rise up, something that is so good and so unique, it speaks not
only of the human spirit but of the American spirit,” she said. “Two such different schools, but
really such good friends. I am so proud of the students here and of the students there who keep
this tradition alive.
“They have vowed to remember not only the heroes of 9/11 but also the families who lost loved
ones. It’s just such an unspeakable tragedy, but thank you for making something good come