Thirteen students from Xaverian High School in Brooklyn, along with two from Millennium High School in lower Manhattan, volunteered their time on Saturday morning to cleaning up the 9/11 Memorial plaza. Students from Stuyvesant High School also participated.
The students picked up fallen acorns from the white oak trees located on the plaza. The acorns were then donated to Berkshire Bird Paradise in Petersburg, N.Y.
Theresa Rau, who has been teaching at Xaverian for 11 years, said she was surprised to see how many of her students wanted to volunteer at the memorial.
“They were in preschool when it happened,” Rau said, “They really didn’t understand the impact.”
Rau only asked a few students in her math class to volunteer, but many showed interest.
“Kids came up asking me, ‘Can I come, can I come?’ and it spread,” Rau said.
Xaverian students are involved in several different charities over the course of the year.
“We jumped at the opportunity when we heard about the 9/11 Memorial,” said Massimo Penta, a math teacher and soccer coach at Xaverian. “It’s very important to bring the students here. It’s a great memorial for the people who lost their lives.”
For almost all of the students, it was their first time at the memorial.
“We didn’t really experience it since we were so young, so it’s good to come down here,” James Pender, a junior at Xaverian, said.
Joseph Ricupero, a junior at Xaverian, noted, “Everyone should know what happened, so doing our part and being here is important.”
Ron Vega, director of design and construction at the memorial, said he was pleased with the volunteers, stating, “It’s working out excellent. The kids are enthusiastic.” Vega said it is important to bring students to the memorial to “make them part of the story."
“They had no consciousness of what took place here, but now they can talk about the memorial as they were a part of it,” Vega said.
Two more Saturday high school volunteer programs will take place at the Memorial. Students from several different high schools will be volunteering on Nov. 29 on the plaza and Dec. 20 in the museum store. 9/11 Memorial Volunteer Services are still accepting students for both dates.
To learn more about volunteering at the memorial, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Deena Farrell, 9/11 Memorial Communications Intern