Students Explore 9/11, Lead Tours Through After-School Program

Christopher Demarest, a sophomore at Bard High School Early College in Queens, speaks with 9/11 Memorial Museum Educational Specialist Chelsea Pellissier (Photo: Amy Dreher)

The 9/11 Memorial Museum’s Ambassador Program, which launched this fall, allows for students in grades 10 through 12 to participate in a semester-long, hands-on learning experience at the museum. Tonight, the first class of six graduates will conclude the program with a private graduation ceremony.

The program, which will also be held in the spring, consists of weekly after-school training sessions led by museum staff members. Students expand their knowledge of 9/11 by exploring the museum’s artifacts and exhibits, as well as through guest speakers, readings and films.

Topics covered in after-school sessions include the creation of the memorial and museum, the history of the World Trade Center, the events of 9/11 and their aftermath, the repercussions of the attacks, al-Qaeda and how to teach from museum objects. In addition, ambassadors gain professional experience by helping to lead hands-on activities for intergenerational audiences during six Saturday programs.

Samantha Torres, a junior at the Academy of American Studies in Queens, was drawn to the program due to its sensitive and inspiring nature.

“As a teenager there are so many opportunities in New York City, but this one was particularly special because of the situation,” Torres said. “You see the worst of humanity and the best of humanity.”

Through her experience in the program, Torres feels that she is a “voice of the museum” to her family and friends.

“The program is so interactive,” Torres said. “What is learned is applied toward the future of the program.”

Christopher Demarest, a sophomore at Bard High School Early College in Queens, said the program’s reading- and writing-based assignments have improved his writing and public speaking skills.

“Preparing for the tour at the end has improved my public speaking and knowing how to interact with an audience, which will be helpful for the future,” Demarest said.

Tonight, students in the program will lead a group of friends, family, and teachers on a tour that they have written and organized.

“Be prepared to do work,” Demarest said, “but also be prepared to have a lot of fun and have a really interesting experience.”

By Deena Farrell, 9/11 Memorial Communications Intern

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