By Kathianne Boniello
Their artwork has hung in the lobby of Little Neck’s MS 67 for weeks, collages of haunting images of fear, sadness and hope experienced by so many after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
But last week it was the voices of MS 67’s students which commanded attention as the school gathered with dozens of dignitaries for the public dedication ceremony of its Twin Towers Memorial Walkway.
In a two-hour ceremony on March 20 featuring music from student orchestras, a video of how the memorial was created and the presentation of memorial quilts made by students, some of the most moving moments came when students took the stage to describe both their artwork and charitable efforts since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“We are aware that there have been countless memorials since Sept. 11,” said student Chanelle Cotton, the mistress of ceremonies. MS 67’s ceremony, she said would hopefully “serve as a vehicle for all of us to move forward together.”
Principal Mae Fong has said she hoped the memorial would help the community heal after the collapse of the World Trade Center and show how strongly the school’s students felt about the disaster.
Peter Phillips, the master of ceremonies, assured the more than 100 people who turned out that “even though we are not adults we feel as deeply and as strongly as adults.”
The multimedia event included student commentary both on how their artwork was made and their personal reactions to the destruction caused by the Sept. 11 attack.
“It was like watching a nightmare in real time,” one student said, “A Hollywood nightmare on the other side of the screen.”
At one point in the ceremony students described their efforts to collect donations for Sept. 11 charities, including one in which students contributed money in exchange for red, white and blue memorial ribbons.
In talking about the ribbons, students paid tribute to the fallen firefighters and police officers of Queens who died trying to rescue people from the Trade Center.
“I wear this ribbon for Firefighter James Corrigan of Little Neck,” said one student. Another said, “I wear this ribbon for retired Firefighter William Feehan of Flushing.”
The audience included a number of school principals from around School District 26, School District 26 Superintendent Claire McIntee, Queens Board of Education Representative Terri Thomson, and representatives from the police and fire departments. Officers from the Port Authority and Emergency Services workers were also present.
After the ceremony the crowd filed out into the lobby to see the artwork, which included a number of life-sized murals, collages made from student art and newspaper clippings and lists of the names of Sept. 11 victims.
Marie Corrigan of Little Neck, whose retired firefighter husband James was killed trying to rescue children from the World Trade Center’s day-care center, praised the ceremony.
“It brought tears to my eyes,” she said of the dedication. “It’s spectacular — it’s so good to see the patriotism rising again in our children. It’s beautiful to see.”
Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.