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Beamer High has special place in 9-11 memory

By ELIZABETH CIEPIELA

Staff writer

Todd Beamer High School’s first school assembly last Friday kicked off with guest speaker Thomas Baldrick, host of the Todd Beamer Foundation’s “Heroic Choices” and a television reporter who covered the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Baldrick told students and staff at the assembly that they are heroes for naming their school after Todd Beamer and for creating a bold new model of education.

The “Heroic Choices” program mentors and empowers traumatized children. Soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Todd Beamer Foundation was created in honor of the man who was a passenger on Flight 93, one of the airliners hijacked by terrorists. The foundation found that six months after the attacks, 26.5 percent of New York City schoolchildren were suffering from mental health problems that impaired their ability to function.

The concern soon expanded to all traumatized children. Researchers found that children are often the forgotten victims of family trauma. To that end, “Heroic Choices” was created.

During the assembly, Baldrick asked his audience to listen not only to his words, but to listen to his heart as well.

“Each and every one of you have touched our hearts,” Baldrick said. “For many children, getting our of bed in the morning requires a heroic choice.This school was built upon nothing but heroic choices.”

Baldrick spoke of the passengers on flight 93, calling them “the first soldiers to fight terrorism on homeland soil in the 21st century.”

“Their work is done. Your work begins,” Baldrick told the Beamer students. “This is so much more than a beautiful school. it’s a bold new model for education.”

Sophomore Jonathan Gillies was on the committee to name the school. Residents of Federal Way sent name suggestions to the committee, and some of the popular names that came up included Lewis and Clark, Chief Joseph and Eleanor Roosevelt. Todd Beamer ultimately was chosen by the School Board.

Gillies said the name reflects what America stands for and signifies that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. “It inspires truth, justice and honesty,” he said.

Gillies presented Baldrick with a Beamer High jacket as a gift from the school.

In interviews, student Kim Mayovsky said she is glad the school was named after Beamer because he and his actions should be remembered. But several other students didn’t think much of the significance of the school’s name.

“Personally, I think people are making a big deal out of nothing,” junior Katy Wilkinson said.

“It means a lot, but people (her age) don’t care,” said sophomore Chelsey Busic.

Staff writer Elizabeth Ciepiela: 925-5565, eciepiela@fedwaymirror.com

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