No school bells will ring.
No teachers will lecture.
But at 8:46 a.m. Sept. 11 - a year after American Flight 11 plowed into Tower One of the World Trade Center - Columbia County's 18,900 pupils will pause for a moment of silence.
That is the only system-wide activity planned for that day. Dealing with the anniversary of the deaths of more than 2,000 Americans is something each school will tackle in its own way. But all of the county's schools will use the moment of silence to focus on those who have had a positive impact on the history of the United States, as did the firefighters and other emergency workers in the Sept. 11 tragedy.
"We're taking it from the approach of recognizing heroes in history," said Jonnie Ghetti, the associate superintendent of instruction. "It will be a time where we recognize the anniversary and participate in memorials, but also a time when we recognize heros in our country and their contributions - not necessarily individuals, but also service groups such as firemen and policemen."
The remembrance of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will fall within a 12-day event Sept. 6-17, American Character Week.
Coordinated nationally through Character Counts! (charactercounts.org), the period encompasses Sept. 17, Constitution Day, which will cap the week with a Pledge Across America, a simultaneous recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance across the country at 2 p.m. Last year President Bush led the Pledge.
"Each school has been asked to focus on the positive, the idea that everyone can be a patriot and how to become a patriot," said Nettie Engles, the executive director of curriculum and secondary curriculum coordinator.
"What we are really doing is trying not only to remember those who gave their lives, but also all the others who work for our country every day - stressing the idea of community service."
Lakeside principal Jeff Carney said his school is being careful not to dredge up too much of the pain of Sept. 11.
"We're going to try to focus on the positive aspects of what came out of that day - patriotism, appreciation of freedom," he said. "What we are not going to do is something every period so a kid has to go through six periods of rehashing Sept. 11 of last year. We will address it, but we are not going to let it totally consume the day. We don't want it to stir up any of the negative feelings they may have had last year."
Mr. Carney said he plans to put tips for parents on the school's web site on how to deal with the "anniversary affect."
System-wide, school officials said they were about as prepared as they could have been for such an event.
"You can take the Sept. 11 event and plan things around that, but the next event might be totally different," said Charles Nagle, the associate superintendent for student and school services.
This year there was state legislation introduced to allow pupils to have cell phones in schools, but that was quashed. Some parents were miffed that they had no way of communicating with their children that day. But Mr. Naglesays that allowing pupils to have cell phones would do more harm than good.
If anything changed the way schools react to emergencies, it was the shootings at Columbine High School. That's when Columbia County schools beefed up security and wrote the emergency preparedness plans that are practiced today.
"If this had happened five years ago, I probably wound't have been as confident in what we have," Mr. Nagle said. "But as far as taking that one situation and trying to revamp our protocol, we haven't done that."
Here some of the activities other schools have planned:
Greenbrier High School: Several of the school's clubs and organizations have been performing community service to show their citizenship, said Principal Sandra Carraway. On Sept. 11, the school's choral department has developed a 40-minute patriotic program and will invite students to attend the program throughout the day. The program highlights historical figures and pays tribute to firemen and policemen.
"The rest of the time, we will be focusing on the United States, people pulling together, character and being good citizens," Mrs. Carraway said.
Harlem High School: The school will hold an assembly at 9:45 a.m. featuring Sen. Joey Brush singing, along with performances by the school's chorus, color guard, a drama skit and a Powerpoint presentation. Victims of the disaster will be remembered when 3,056 hearts with their names will be raised. The school will also hold a voter registration drive.
Evans Elementary School: The school will observe the national moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. by gathering around the flagpole in the courtyard, then pledging allegiance to the American flag. At lunchtime, five fireman will be having lunch with the students, and parents will be providing dessert. Students will also wear red, white and blue.
Evans Middle School: A short assembly has been planned which will include the moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the Pledge and then the chorus will sing God Bless America during a slide show. Local deputies, firemen and EMT's have been invited to lunch that day to be recognized and be honored.
"We want to keep it short and honorable," Principal Myrel Seigler said.
American Legion Auxiliary members will donating ribbons to all staff and pupils Sept. 10, for them to wear Sept. 11. The school's pupils and staff will wear red, white and blue.
Writing classes are composing letters to servicemen and women overseas, to those in the VA hospital and to local police and firefighters. The art classes are designing a box in the lobby for the mail, which will be take to the post office that day.
"We did not want to overdo it or to take away from the purpose of remembering and honoring those who were lost or who stepped forward to risk their own lives to help others," Seigler said. "... We are trying to keep it simple and educational."
North Columbia Elementary School: The student body will observe the 8:46 a.m. moment of silence, then will continue with the flag raising, proclamation, and patriotic singing at the school's flagpole. Pupils and faculty will wear red, white and blue.
That night, some pupils will participate in the Wesley Memorial Church's singing of Let There Be Peace On Earth.
The school's Sept. 13 carnival which will take place from 5 to 8:30 p.m., will have the theme All American Fair. There will be patriotic booths and a Favorite American Patriot costume contest.
On Sept. 17, the school will participate in the Pledge with the Nation at 2 p.m.
During the week, there will be inspirational quotes during the daily announcements and each grade level will have a different American theme they will focus on during the week.
Augusta Christian Schools: A Memorial Chapel Service will begin at 8:46 a.m. It will include a moment of silence, opening prayer, Sept. 11 video, Sen. Joey Brush will speak, Judge Slaughter will present Freedom Plaques from the Exchange Club, the Color Guard will present the colors and everyone will join in the Pledge to the flag and in singing God Bless America.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.