Ellise Stokes was proud to put her red, white and blue hand print on the giant banner.
''We are going to send it to a firefighter because they save people,'' said the Grovetown Middle School preschooler.
Her hand print is one of 20 on the white paper banner that says, ''Thank You New York City Firefighters.'' Lynn Henry's preschoolers decorated the banner with their names and hand prints as a gift to Sadie Mayo's son, who is a firefighter helping with the clean-up effort in the wake of the Sept. 11 attack on the twin towers in New York City.
Mayo has been a paraprofessional in the Columbia County school system for the past 29 years - 13 at Grovetown Middle School.
''He will be excited to get it,'' she said.
It wasn't until 1 a.m. after the attack that she heard from her son, John Mayo, 31, and learned that he was safe. She hasn't been able to talk to him since because of his involvement in the search and recovery mission at the trade centers. For Henry and her pupils, the banner is an outward display of their admiration of him and for his mother.
''Ms. Mayo has such incredible faith, she was able to stay here and do her job until she heard from him, and we all admire her for that,'' Henry said.
Henry didn't tell the pupils what happened Sept. 11, but the next day they were eager to talk about it. The banner was one way of opening the discussion.
''They started giving me information that they knew, and we talked about the tragedy, about losing the building, about the people lost and the firefighters. Plus having Mayo here, they were excited that her son was a firefighter and wanted to do something for him.''
Next week, the pupils will be learning about the letter F - F is for flag. But they are still anxious to talk about the tragedy.
''Why did they tear down those buildings?'' Skylar Blankenbeckler asked during a class discussion.
Henry answered, ''We don't know. That's something we're still trying to understand, Skylar.''
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