CEDAR GROVE, NJ – Though they were far too young to remember that fateful day, Cedar Grove High School students had a chance to personally honor the memory of those lost on Sept. 11, 2001 as they helped to install the Cedar Grove Waves art installation on the front lawn of the school this week.
Coordinated by Cedar Grove resident David Schoner, the Cedar Grove Waves project features a flag representing the home country of each 9/11 victim, with a total of 2,977 flags waving on the front lawn of the high school. Included among the victims are the two Cedar Grove residents who lost their lives that day, John Ernst Eichler and Norman Rossinow.
All Student Council President Ava Kreismer noted it was the symbol of the American flag which resonated most strongly with her as she participated in the project. “There is no greater symbol of strength, unity and perseverance than the American flag and the Cedar Grove Waves project is representative of that," Kreismer said.
Cedar Grove Waves was inspired by a similar display at Pepperdine University in California that Schoner saw several years ago and the impact stayed with him. He saw the Cedar Grove Waves project as a way to honor lives lost while also demonstrating to CGHS students, who were so young that day, the magnitude of what happened.
“Seeing 2,977 flags on the front lawn not only honors the victims, but demonstrates the impact of lives lost,” Schoner said. “I wanted to create something that could honor the victims and start a conversation between kids and parents and the community.”
To finance the project, Schoner established a GoFundMe page and through donations raised the necessary $3,300 to purchase the flags within seven days of announcing the project. Jarmel Kizel Architects and Engineers, Inc. of Livingston donated their services to design the layout required for the flag installation.
Schoner began laying out the grid on Saturday and the grid was completed and holes were drilled with the help of community, student and school volunteers by Tuesday night. Beginning Wednesday, students began placing the flags. Each flag was affixed with the name of a victim before it was placed.
For senior Julia Giacobbe it was seeing all of the names of the victims that really struck a chord. “Growing up I always knew about 9/11, but being so young, I never quite understood the magnitude of it,” said Giacobbe. “Participating in the Cedar Grove Waves project and seeing the names on each of the flags had an emotional impact that gave me a better sense of the tragedy.”
In lieu of gym class, students were asked to report to the auditorium Wednesday and Thursday. One half of the class listened to a presentation by history teacher Chris Cannella on the timeline of the events of Sept. 11, 2001 while the other half of the class went outside to install the flags. Each student was asked to place four to five flags, both American and international. The final flags were placed on Thursday and the grid lines were removed to complete the project.
Schoner praised the teachers and staff at CGHS for their support of the project calling it a “true hands-on effort” and noting that essentially everyone at CGHS was involved in one way or another. Principal Rick Mangili and Vice Principal Steve Gallagher helped place the grid, drill the holes and oversaw the entire project. Cannella gave his presentation continuously throughout the installation. Physical education teachers Jacqueline Lasky, Andrea Watson, Thomas Jones and Michael Valenzano helped to attach the 2,977 names to the flags and assisted students in placing them throughout two days. Photography teacher Vincent Cardiello and science teacher Walter Krehel documented the project with their cameras and numerous teachers and staff came around throughout the day to help in any way they could and to also have the opportunity to place a flag themselves Schoner added.
The Cedar Grove Waves project will be in place through Sept. 23 and will be an annual tradition at CGHS going forward. To contribute to the ongoing project click here. To see more photographs please visit our Facebook page.