No 9/11 Moment of Silence in Schools 'Shocking' to Parent

School Board members informally agree that in future years recognition be given to event that affected so many in Bernards Township.

Township mother Stacy Lettie of Spencer Road, who said she has three children in Bernards Township schools, said she was speaking on behalf of many mothers in the community when she said she found it "shocking" that the schools didn't conduct a moment of silence or provide across-the-board teaching about Sept. 11, 2001.

Addressing the Board of Education on Monday night, Lettie said the event "shapes all aspects of their lives" she said of the students. Later during the meeting, board members informally agreed they would like to see a moment of silence instituted in Bernards Schools on Sept. 11 in future years.

Sept. 11, 2001 was also a day that took the lives of about 20 Bernards Township residents, depending on how residency was counted. This year's juniors were beginning kindergarten at that time.

Lettie said that even ShopRite supermarket observed a moment of silence, while in the schools, "We are missing an incredible opportunity to teach our children." She said her son, now a sophomore reported that his Social Studies teacher had spent just a few minutes talking about the World Trade Center's destruction, an event that she said has changed every aspect of students' lives.

Lettie asked the school board to conduct a moment of silence in future years and to add teaching about the event into all classrooms even if children would be taught in a different way at different age levels.

Resident Bill Connors told school board members that he agreed with Lettie. "It was disrespectful of those families that were impacted."

Schools Superintendent Nick Markarian said that this year, the 11th following the Sept. 11, 2001, the district's Social Studies Supervisor had provided age-appropriate materials on the subject to all teachers. He said that teaching of the material was not mandated, but many did participate.

William Annin Middle School conducted service project

For example, to honor of September 11 Day of Service, William Annin Middle School students showed a generous and caring spirit in and outside of school from September 6 to 13, according to an earlier announcement by Deirdre Bachler, Spanish teacher at the middle school.

The students were invited to collect animal food, toys and blankets for local animal shelters, with some also choosing to write letters to soldiers abroad, she said.

"Some of the classes are still working on letters to send, but over 100 thoughtful letters and decorated cards have been collected and mailed at this point. Also, the amount of items collected for animals filled up four car trunks to be delivered to Somerset Regional Animal Shelter. St. Hubert’s of Branchburg, Catnip Friends Rescue of Flemington, and Mount Pleasant Animal Shelter of East Hanover," Bachler reported about a week after 9/11.

But board members informally agreed that a moment of silence would be appropriate for future years.

Even as she referred to the middle school initiative, Board Member Elaine Kusel said she agreed with remarks by many that there should be some sort of formal recognition of Sept. 11's events in Bernards Schools.

"It's an omission that we did not have a moment of silence, and it needs to be fixed," said Board Member Michael Byrne.

"It's a major point in our history," noted Board Member William Koch.

Markarian said there were a wide range of activities in regard to 9/11 in different schools this year, but it would be easy to develop a program aimed at different age groups. He agreed a moment of silence could be conducted.

Leaving the meeting, Lettie said she had expected that more parents might have attended. But she said she felt she had accomplished something at Monday's meeting.

In a related discussion, parent Renee Marchetti said she would like to see the schools have a set policy for how children recite the pledge of allegiance during the school day. "It only takes a moment."

Right now, she said she believes saluting the flag is handled different ways in different schools, with some schools leading the pledge over the public announcement system. She said she would like to see students taught to give the flag "the respect it deserves."

Although board members said they believe the pledge of allegiance is being recited in schools, Byrne said that maybe the district should look at a policy, and other board members said they agreed with his remarks.

Marnie Skiba September 25, 2012 at 04:37 AM
What is Stacy Lettie talking about? How does 9/11 shape all aspects of the lives of students? This negative woman is overrun with hyperbole and misinformation. The district obviously prepared its faculty for this sad commemoration. And, of course, Elaine and Mike jump on anything that gets their name in the news. How about a more thoughtful response? Yes, we mourn those are lost but the opportunities to get one's name in the press is shameful in itself. Move on; this is a non-issue.
brian kayhart September 25, 2012 at 10:45 AM
Twenty residents of Bernards perished on 9/11. They were Parents, Spouses, Relatives and friends of many people who do think this is a big deal. We need to remember history, it's our legacy. Bernards may of had the largest loss of life of any town in suburban NJ. We currently have a small bronze plate on a stone about 18" long and 10" high. Not a large rememberance for a large loss, in one of the richest towns in NJ. By the way Marnie, we're still fighting a war with the same people that commited that act. Although collecting for St. Hubert's a nice thing, it hardly relates to 9/11. People should "never forget". The scool district obviously has "forgotten" and have been reminded of the community they work in.
Vee Hikle September 25, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Talked with friends in Middletown and Westfield who also had huge loses on 9/11 and they both observe 9/11 every year in the schools. Out of sheer respect for this town's loss, and to show respect to the fallen, it's a perfect opportunity to bring our children together to remind and reflect. Every day I when going to NYC I reflect on that day.....every day! Brian's point that there's an actual war in progress is an even more important reminder. It's a total issue. Listen to the people and do the right thing. Marnie's way off public sentiment.
Suzanne Quigley September 25, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Normally I do not respond to these comments but this one "hit a personal note!" I believe you just took a moment to get your name in the paper Marine! Your comment. I believe, is the one that is extremely heartless! I was unable to attend the meeting but commend Stacy for bringing it to the boards attention. I could go on but I can't waste my time responding to such a "thoughtless response". Hopefully the board will implement a policy district wide in the future!
Kathleen Bridge September 25, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Well said, Brian! 9/11 was a day that changed the way we live here in America..........it must never be forgotten or we are doomed to repeat our mistakes of being "unprepared"...........sadly, the recent events in the Middle East serve as a gauge of how well we are doing on that front. How many more? Kathleen Bridge
Deborah Naude September 25, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Good job Stacy. My kids classes did observe the day but a district wide moment of silence / observation of September 11th should be instituted. We all feel and grieve and pull together as Americans on this day and this must be part of our children's consciousness.
Sant Foster September 25, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Did anyone notice the picture that reads "Spirit of Community?" I asked my children if they did anything in school for 9/11 and was told one teacher talked about it! I was very saddened and angered by this! We have special days for just about everything and can't talk about or remember what happened to beloved people of our community who touched our lives. Where has the "real" Spirit of community gone? We do need to remember history and show respect for the lives lost in 911.
Laurie Albee September 25, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Thanks Stacy for speaking on behalf of all of the concerned Basking Ridge Mom's as well as any parent of children in the Basking Ridge school system regarding a moment of silence on 9/11 every year. How could we not take a moment and remember the people that were lost that day as well as all of those who helped rescue people, and those who are still fighting to protect our country? I will remember that day forever, and I think it is important for my children to also learn about that day, as well as stop for a moment of silence on 9/11. Thank you Stacy!
SN September 25, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Thank you Stacy! I agree with you! We should have a moment of silence and our children should learn about all aspects of our country's history. 9/11 is very relevant and should be taught, regardless of the number of loved ones that were lost in any town in NJ or across America for that matter. ALL schools should have a moment of silence and education about 9/11. It is surprising that it was not happening already, in my opinion.
Laura Reynolds September 25, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Thank you Stacy for having the courage to speak up and bring about a much-needed change.
LCB@home September 25, 2012 at 02:45 PM
It would be wonderful if more suggestions were brought forward at the meeting by those in attendance. I appreciate that the school district was able to share all of the things that they did do to honor the day. Just because there was not an across the board moment of silence, doesn't mean that the day was ignored - just needs to be implemented across the board. In talking with some parents, we thought that a moment of silence is acceptable to some, but a special pledge of allegiance that morning near the school flag, an assignment that might include writing a letter to a Veteran, planting of a tree on school grounds to honor those who died, a historical lesson of how and why it happened and what has changed since, etc. might be interesting ways to approach it. I prefer to focus on moving forward and a teachable moment rather than a quiet moment of reflection at this point. Many of the kids in elementary weren't born when 9/11 happened, believe it or not, so we need other ways to help them understand. It seems to me as though the schools have considered that, and they will further. Thank you.
AC September 25, 2012 at 04:13 PM
I like Suzanne above - I don't normally comment on these things. I don't have children, but would be disappointed if my nieces and nephews' schools didn't honor is some way. I personally think this should be made a state holiday. While the impact has been felt across the country, the impact here locally was profound and life changing on so many fronts. MA has Bunker Hill day and Patriots day to commemoration of key battles held in their state that changed the course of our history. NJ should step up and recognize some of key impatful dates as well. I am not saying this bc I would benefit from these civic hoilldays becoming a reality but just think it would be an amazing thing to do.
JaK September 25, 2012 at 06:03 PM
I have been fighting for this since 2002! Congratulations. Below is an email I sent to BOE and RHS principals and Asst Prinicipals. Never responded...they should be ashamed of themselves. Dear all, As a parent I am responsible to keep my children safe and removed from harm. As educators you are responsible to keep our children informed and aware. I am writing this to urge you do not let our children let 9/11 pass as a typical day, it is not. September 11th, 2001 forever changed our world. A day that spawned horrific images of the tragedy, of thousands of families, innocent workers, travelers, pedestrians, fire, polices and so many... too numerous to list. We are obiligated to keep our children aware and compassionate to the loss of the 9/11 victims and their family Years ago, while attending Cedar Hill, my young son informed me that the school not observe a moment of silence for the victims. As it turned out that was not first year of ignoring this National tradegy. Superintendent Goger informed me at the time that it was the BOE's decision not to have a moment of silence. The President of the United States deemed it important enough to stop the country, thedomestic and international finanial services market halted all activity etc.. why would the Bernrds BOE not? Her answer was so appalling to this day I cringe. Her concern was some students (muslim) may be offended, others didn't remember so why bother...
JaK September 25, 2012 at 06:03 PM
We as parents and educators must never let moments that changed our lives eclipse into a non-event. That is exactly what the BOE was doing. Save a few from what? The pharse "Never forget" was a call out from the families of the victims and others impacted by 9/11. Yet that is what the BOE decided to do. Would we forget Pearl Harbor Day? Of course not. The best and most efficient way to have a society implement or diminish events is through children...to stop remembering...soon it never happened or wasn't such a big deal and terriomism will have won. As the President of Iran vocally informs the world...the Holocust never happened. To the children of Iran sadly, that information is the truth. Please be brave and do the right thing. Give a moment of silence out of respect and memory of those thatfell on that awful day ..so our children learn that it right and good to have compassion. More than a decade has passed but it still feels like yesterday. We will NEVER FORGET. Let us come together this 9/11, to honor, remember and, pray for the innocent victims of 9/11.
JaK September 25, 2012 at 06:08 PM
LCB at Home... Please stop!! Your PC is hurting. What is wrong with remembering those lost on that day. As a community that lost many..this should not be a discussion. What is wrong with teaching our children compassion? And the realities of our lives since 9-11
JaK September 25, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Pain pain pain...forget PC and just do the right thing
JaK September 25, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Bravo Bryan. See my post. I have been fightinh for this since 2002 and even wrote and got published.in the B'ville newspaper. Email sent again on 9/10 asking for school to pay attention ...ignored. Shame on BOE and our schools prinicipals
LCB@home September 25, 2012 at 07:37 PM
JaK - agreed, nothing wrong with remembering. I have offered some various ways we might do more, if you read a little more carefully. My pc works pretty well, thank you. Perhaps you didnt finish the paragraph? Please show that what we did learn from 9/11, at the very least, was respectfulness. That is a paramount lesson that should be shared with our children first and foremost.
Linda September 25, 2012 at 09:28 PM
I was pregnant with my second child on 9/11..... after many anxious hours, my husband came home. My pregnant friends husband did not! Let's please remember we are forever affected by what happened.
JaK September 25, 2012 at 10:07 PM
LCB@ I beleive 9/11 was very much a "teachable moment" and especially well taught by the muslim terriorists. They taught us that we can never have the lives we had prior to their merciless attack. I for one am not PC. This attack was no different than Pearl Harbor. Not acknowledging 9/11 victims, heroes and the impact to the country reinforces the objectives of certain agendas of ... forgetting it happened at all. I quote from my letter to BOE and my earlier comment "As the President of Iran vocally informs the world...the Holocust never happened. To the children of Iran sadly, that information is the truth"....guess what LCB the children and young adults of the country need to have the truth presented. What could be worse than our children living in the bubble of Basking Ridge going out into the great big world niave to the events of 9/11? Sadly our educators are cowards and do not have the courage to do what is right. They are NOT decision makers they are followwers and it is sad that as a community we prode ourselves in our schools system as being so superior...when they are not men and women of conviction or truths. My children are aware and informed of those sad events and not a year ever pass without our respect and heartfelt prayers. My children will never be followers they will always do the right thing...not because it is a "teachable moment" or PC...because it is right.
JaK September 25, 2012 at 10:12 PM
I was in the earlier WTC bombing. I worked in the WTC, WFC, Wall Street and knew many. I was also a flight attendant and when listening to the voice of Betty Oh informing flight crew operations of the situation, I cried. You see just like the rest of the country emergency services, the airlines were not equipped to deal with this type of vicious terrioris,. and trained flight crews to be calm, passive and do what as requested. While that may have worked for your every day loon hijacker trying to go home to Cuba...these Musilim terriorist are a different breed. The brave souls of flight 93 knew what to do.
JaK September 25, 2012 at 10:13 PM
We do not need a mosque in Baskinfg Ridge to be built between two residential homes. Someone commented that theBR mosque is a victory building...I agree.
JaK September 25, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Wow you are really strange..move on? Non issue? Did you lose anyone, know any of the victims their families? Have a heart that beats. I cannot waste my time with people like you ... a pitifully sad sad person.
brian kayhart September 25, 2012 at 11:46 PM
I've lived in town 25 years this December ('87), started going into the city from Montclair in '82. I've commuted to work on the train for 14 years to WTC and Downtown (100 Wall or 116 John) or Jersey City the next 11 years. I've bought coffee from Barbara from Lyons Station and Basking Ridge Station almost every one of those days. It's not about who's right, it's about remembering the fact that these people went to work and died that day. They still work there. I'm a lucky one, many of my friends are not. Check out where the 19 names that are on a bronze plaque. Does anyone know where that plaque is located? Remember my friends.
AJY September 25, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Thank you Stacey for having the courage to speak up!
Stacy Lettie September 26, 2012 at 12:21 AM
Thank you all for your kind words and appreciation. It was so gratifying to be able to make a small difference. This should not be a divisive issue, we owe those who died our reverence in some small way and we owe it to ourselves as educators and parents to ensure that their sacrifice is never forgotten. Kudos to the Board for not hesitating in their support. I look forward to seeing the results!
Liberty September 29, 2012 at 12:05 AM
“Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country." Do you remember when we said that prayer in school, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance? It's a very benign prayer and I'm showing my age. Serious question--do kids still say the Pledge in school? I obviously don't have kids in school, but there should absolutely, at the very least, be a mandated moment of silence on 9/11.
HG September 30, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Brian, Have you ever been the the 9/11 memorial in Dunham park?
Cameron Hall September 30, 2012 at 02:43 PM
For shame Marnie. Perhaps a trip to the library would teach you something. This was not a one time minor incident as you seem to want to believe. And we have been dealing with these terrorists a lot longer than you obviously try to minimize. Does the name Sirhan Sirhan ring a bell? Don't you remember when the Iranian-backed terror group, Hezbollah struck the American troops on a peacekeeping mission in Lebanon? How convenient that you do not recall when four members of one of the PLO’s factions, the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and shot to death a wheelchair-bound Jewish passenger from the United States named Leon Klinghoffer, dumping his body overboard? Islamic terrorism started long before there was an Israel. Sunni and Shia Muslims have been killing each other since the death of Mohammed.


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