CEDAR GROVE, NJ - If you drive by Cedar Grove High School you'll see the progress of the Cedar Grove Waves 9/11 Memorial Art Installation. For the third year in a row, the lawn of CGHS will be covered with 2,977 flags that honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks.
Cedar Grove Waves organizer David Schoner began laying out the grid for the project earlier this week. Thursday, CGHS students began placing the flags and learning more about the events of that tragic day for which none were old enough to remember and many were not even born.
"Derrick Goduto is doing a twenty minute seminar on the events of Sept. 11," Schoner explained. "After the kids are done with the seminar they actually come out and put the flags in so that there is a full comprehension of what happened and why we're doing what we're doing here."
In its third year, Schoner continues to enlarge the scope of the memorial to help educate Cedar Grove students about the events of that day. Some of the new additions this year include a formal ceremony and displays at Memorial Middle School, North End School and South End School.
"What we wanted to do since we've always incorporated Cedar Grove Waves into the high school only was to also start having a conversation with the elementary schools and at the middle school," Schoner said. "Obviously each one has to be appropriate depending on the grade level. So we have display cases in the elementary schools and the middle school, so when you first walk into those buildings there is a Cedar Grove Waves display."
CGHS Principal Rick Mangili noted how much the event has grown and the impact its had on not just the students, but the community and even nationwide. Mangili said that after the first Cedar Grove Waves installation he received emails from strangers around the country thanking him and noting how important it was to them.
"This is our third year doing this and each year we've dialed it up a notch. The first year we were actually stapling the names of the victims on the bottom of the flags and sticking them in the ground. Last year we did the stakes with the victim's names. This year we've stepped it up even more because we are going to have a ceremony on Monday," Mangili explained. "Last year was a little rushed because we started school late and couldn't really get the kids involved. This time we knew we had the time to do it the way we wanted and involve the kids because this is all about having the kids get a piece of history and also represent four to six of the victims of that day."
Student reaction is positive, with many students stating that seeing the 2,977 flags waving on their high school lawn really brings the events of the day home to them.
"I was one years old when the event happened so it's very important to see the presentation, pictures and video and learn about it and to understand how many people were affected," said senior Manav Shah. "It's nice that we can honor and remember those who passed away by honoring them every year.
"It's kind of upsetting to me because I was too young to be able to remember it, but from what my parents told me we watched it happen from Mills Reservation," said senior Nick LoPresti. "I appreciate seeing it out here -- it's good to remember all of the people who lost their lives because of the horrible event that took place."
For senior Alex Lopresti it is the clarity of the memories from those that were old enough to remember that's truly impactful. "It's an emotional time and hearing people's stories of where they were and what they were doing and how clear their memories are of everything that day shows how much it affected them," he noted. "That's as close as we can get to understanding the impact this had on the country and all of the people that were involved, especially in a town so close to New York City where it's easy to find you know someone who was related to someone who was injured or killed that day."
The formal ceremony will be held on the morning of Sept. 11 at approximately 8:35 a.m. Bagpiper Dick Boesch will play "Amazing Grace" as the students exit the building and Elissa Johnson, All School Council President, will give the welcoming address. Superintendent of Schools Michael Fetherman and Board of Education President Christine Dye will also speak and 17 CGHS students will read a moment of time giving a timeline of the series of events that occurred that day. Trumpet player Joe Colasurdo will play "Taps" to close it.
The Cedar Grove Waves Art Installation will be on the CGHS front lawn from Sept. 11 to Sept. 23.