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Students share feelings in classes, neighborhoods

Sixth-grader’s letter catches the spirit of a nation mourning

SHARE Students share feelings in classes, neighborhoods

Singing hymns, sporting buttons and signing sympathy notes are helping Utah children heal from Tuesday's terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Brookwood Elementary students in Sandy are wearing "Brookwood Loves America" buttons every day until the crisis is resolved. They hung a banner portraying the same sentiment on the school Thursday afternoon.

Sixth-grade students wrote essays conveying their feelings on what makes, and will keep, America great in the attack's aftermath. One, penned by Amber Christiansen, moved teachers to tears and inspired a schoolwide patriotism assembly.

"We were not ready for what happened. We thought it would just be another peaceful day," sixth-grader Christiansen wrote. "This could start wars, but America is great, so we'll stand hand in hand, no matter what sex, race or religion, together as a free nation. So, let that star-spangled banner wave o'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave today, and always."

Schools across the Wasatch Front are adopting similar patriotic actions.

South Jordan Middle School students wrote sympathy notes to New York residents. Other children wanting to make cards for victims' families may do so, and drop them off at the Salt Lake County Library for delivery to New York.

Reading Elementary students in Centerville dipped into piggy banks to assist American Red Cross relief efforts. Principal Jay Tolman estimated a few hundred dollars were collected Thursday.

A group of East High singers gathered in a commons area for an impromptu patriotic performance. Their dulcet tones carried throughout the school. At Highland High the Ladies Ensemble sang the "Star-Spangled Banner" to the student body over the intercom.

Horizonte Instruction and Training Center students talked about feelings of loss, support, and refraining from inappropriate blame, then wrote essays and expressed themselves through art, teacher Caryl Brown said.

Symbols of mourning, unity and patriotism are expected to spill into Friday, which President Bush declared a National Day of Remembrance.

Wilson Elementary children in Nebo District were wearing red, white and blue ribbons. Granite High School passed out 1,200 flags and tied silver ribbons on a violence-free tree. Jordan and Granite schools were encouraged to have a moment of silence.

School sporting fans and athletes are expected to share a moment of silence, salute color guards or sing the national anthem before Friday matches. Jordan District cancelled its athletic events.

As Brookwood student sixth-grader Erika Kern puts it: "We should stand as brothers and sisters, not as enemies. . . . The world should have peace. That's something we need to work on."

E-MAIL: jtcook@desnews.com