Celebrate Freedom Week activities honor our nation, victims and heroes of 9/11

by Christian Hughes, Public Information

GCISD students of all ages learned about freedom, sacrifice and our American heritage through special activities and lessons in conjunction with Celebrate Freedom Week on September 12-16.

As part of Texas House Bill 1776, Celebrate Freedom Week sets aside a time each year for public schools to focus on the importance of the Declaration of Independence and other founding documents. Coupled with the study of these documents, many Social Studies teachers this year also included lessons and activities pertaining to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to illustrate how these attacks changed our culture and society today.

Timberline Elementary students got the opportunity to show their appreciation for their freedoms as well as work on their letter-writing skills by penning letters to servicemen and local first responders. First-grade students at Heritage Elementary made hats that had the rights protected by the Constitution written on them. Many elementary school teachers brought in news clippings from 9/11 and age-appropriate reading passages about the attacks to discuss with their students. Using critical thinking strategies, the students could then understand what that day means to our nation.

Sherry David, a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Colleyville Middle, also had her students write letters to servicemen and servicewomen overseas. The father of one of David’s students is working with the military in Kuwait and, as a special touch, he personally delivered their letters to soldiers. Meanwhile, Chad Hannon’s seventh-grade students at Grapevine Middle interviewed adults about their experiences on 9/11 to gain insight into how people were feeling during the attacks as well as the skills to develop their own primary source documents. And former Cross Timbers Middle students from the 2001-2002 Texas Discoveries class sent Karen Moxley’s seventh-grade class their accounts of 9/11 to give this year’s students an idea of how the attacks affected the students of CTMS in 2001.

At our high schools, students from Grapevine High honored the victims of 9/11 by viewing the remembrances from the Flight Crew Memorial in Grapevine. Both Colleyville Heritage and Grapevine High students viewed footage from the 9/11 attacks, which occurred when most of these students were in kindergarten.

“For years our teachers have done a phenomenal job educating our students about our country's founding documents and making them meaningful and relevant to students' lives today,” said Erin Bown, GCISD Social Studies Coordinator. “This year, with it being the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, we had the opportunity to incorporate reflections and memories from people in our students’ lives today to help develop a deeper level of understanding about what freedom means, the costs that are associated with that freedom, and a true appreciation for these freedoms."

Celebrate Freedom at HES  
During Constitution Week, students in Kris Buchanan's first grade class at Heritage Elementary made hats with "rights" written on the stars, illustrating the many freedoms Americans enjoy, such as  to live, to work, to worship, to speak out, to play, and to follow our dreams.