Voorhees Middle School faculty members, parents and eight grade students devoted time to remember by honoring the heroes in their own lives.
The 11th annual Heroes Remembrance Day was held on Friday, Oct. 12, from 12:45 to 2:45 p.m.
Students nominated a hero, wrote an essay about their hero, and brought that hero to the ceremony to honor them.
“This event started as a healing response to the events of 9/11 and has become a learning experience and an occasion for students to reflect upon qualities of heroism in their lives,” a description of the event in a news release said.
Voorhees Middle School teacher Noreen Saggese planned the event from day one.
Each year, the message is different. There is only one thing new about the event this year — it’s location. Even though this year’s event was held in the auditorium instead of the cafeteria, it still had the same effect on the students, said elementary event coordinator Irene Afek.
Mayor Michael Mignogna shared his gratitude with the crowd for allowing him to speak once again at the ceremony.
“I am always proud when I come to this hero day of the choices that our students make when they picked their heroes,” said Mignogna. “When I looked around this room I am proud of the choices that our students have made.”
Performances by the eighth grade band as well as various student performers helped pay tribute to their heroes.
Songwriter and author Hank Fellows was also present at the ceremony. Fellows composed a 9/11-tribute song, “Half Way to Heaven,” in honor of the lives lost during the terrorist attacks.
Four students stepped onto the stage to perform Fellows’ song.
Guest speaker Assemblyman Louis Greenwald was also at the ceremony. His children picked himself and his wife, Cynthia, as heroes.
“I want you to take the time when the ceremony is over and look at the adult you have honored here today. They are people that have been instrumental in your life,” Greenwald said.
From doctors, lawyers, police officers, firefighters, and more, each child picked their hero for a reason, he said. But Greenwald said the real inspirations are the children.
“I want you to know that to each and everyone of us, the heroes in this room are you,” said Greenwald. “You have inspired us.”
The ceremony ended with each child pinning an American flag onto the shirts of their hero while handing them the essay written about them.
Copies of essays were posted on the “wall of heroes” inside of the school.
On the wall, letters with words of inspiration and gratitude were crammed together creating a surplus of appreciation.
At the very bottom, Ethan Shacket had his letter posted on the wall. Ethan’s hero is Larry Winitsky (Ethan mentions him as “Grampy”).
“He does almost anything to make me happy. It’s as if he’s my fairy godfather, granting my every wish,” Ethan wrote.
“The passage of time really has not changed the depth of feeling of students, of the heroes, and of the educators who are working together to insure that the lessons learned from this horrific event are with our students and serve as a a positive reminder,” Afek said.