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Beamer High is big news nationally
By JODY ALLARD
Last weeks decision by the Federal Way School Board to name the districts new high school after deceased 9-11 hero Todd Beamer was of interest to more than just local residents.
The first school to be named after a victim of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Todd Beamer High became the topic of conversation worldwide.
In addition to local media coverage, an Associated Press article ran in newspapers throughout the country, and radio and television stations from San Francisco to Great Britain picked up the story. CNN and Fox News included the decision on their headline news tickers.
The school-naming wasnt publicly acknowledged by Beamers widow, however. Despite her own high profile through a book and a foundation named for her late husband, Lisa Beamer wasnt accepting media requests for interviews and hadnt issued a statement by Monday.
Todd Beamer is best known for uttering the words Are you ready? Lets roll, presumably spurring other passengers to storm the cockpit of hijacked United Airlines Flight 93.
Beamer and the other passengers are believed to have prevented a terrorist hijackers attack on an unknown target in Washington, D.C. The flight crashed in rural Pennsylvania within minutes of Beamers words, killing all 44 on board.
Although the post office in Beamers New Jersey hometown and a student center at Wheaton College, his alma mater, have been named for him, Beamer High is the first school to bear his name.
The decision has not been without controversy.
E-mails and comments received from Federal Way residents have criticized the School. Board for honoring a person unrelated to the community, whose actions have not been tested by time.
The board itself was split on the issue. After more than an hour of heated debate, the final vote was 3-1, with board member Don Putnam voting against Beamer and Charlie Hoff abstaining.
But, with media attention focused on Federal Way, board president Earl VanDorien Jr. points to the coverage as an opportunity for the city and its residents to shine in the spotlight.
VanDorien himself has been interviewed by nearly a dozen local and national media outlets, and received an e-mail from nationally-syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry thanking him for quoting him during the Oct. 22 board meeting.
We now need to be portrayed in a positive light as a community that is proud of our new school and the kids in it. We do not need to show the country that we are bickerers and poor sports about not getting our name selected, said VanDorien. We need to show we can civilly disagree but in the end, we are a united community.
With a book, a Web site, a charitable foundation and a Lets roll store selling Beamer merchandise on-line, the Todd Beamer name has become a marketing conglomeration.
Beamers widow, Lisa, began the Todd M. Beamer Foundation Sept. 24, 2001 to assist children affected by family trauma and released a book -ÐÐ Lets roll: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage -ÐÐ in late-August about her experiences.
The book -ÐÐ plus hats, shirts and sweatshirts bearing the Beamer name ÐÐ is available on-line from the foundation.
Knowing that the children (who will attend the school) had nominated Todds name to be used, we were just in awe that the children understand the impact Todds life had made, said Doug MacMillan, Beamers friend and chief executive officer of the Todd M. Beamer Foundation. Were just honored that Todds name and Lets roll is being used as a way to motivate or inspire other people. Were especially happy when it is children that are affected and touched by Todds actions.
VanDorien said he has made a request for Lisa Beamer to speak at the schools opening next fall.
Staff writer Jody Allard can be reached at 925-5565 and firstname.lastname@example.org