In Ceremony, NY4P Announces 9/11 Tribute Partnership with Bay Ridge School

Friday, May 18, 2012
If there was ever a moment that underscored the importance of the Daffodil Project as a living memorial to 9/11, Wednesday morning’s dedication ceremony at William McKinley IS 259 was it.

An overflow crowd of firefighters, police officers and military personnel gathered in a courtyard at the Bay Ridge, Brooklyn school to honor a student memorial mural that runs along a third-floor hallway of the school. NY4P Executive Director Holly Leicht announced a partnership with the school through the Daffodil Project, which NY4P began in 2001 as a tribute to September 11 and, with almost 5 million free daffodil bulbs planted citywide, has grown into the largest volunteer effort in the city’s history.

The Tribute WTC Visitor Center honored McKinley teachers Thomas Buxton and Roma Karas in February for their 9/11 awareness curriculum, which has inspired 12- and 13-year-old students to create the nearly 700-foot mural and more than 600 original poems over the past six years in remembrance of the attacks.

“The students at McKinley have led an inspired effort to learn about, understand and memorialize the tragic events of 9/11,” Leicht said. "We’re honored that they’ve invited us to join them this fall to plant more than 3,000 bulbs on their school grounds – one for every life lost that day – which will bloom each spring as a sign of renewal and remembrance.”

The exhibit also includes an American flag, and steel and glass from the original World Trade Center site, all of which was donated to the school by Local 46 in honor of the students' six-year memorialization project.

Wednesday’s event was solemn and patriotic throughout, with performances of "The Star Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" sung by former NYPD officer Daniel Rodriguez, and "Amazing Grace" performed by the FDNY’s Emerald Society Pipes and Drums. Speakers included FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano, NYPD Chief Thomas M. Chan and Tribute Center Board member Lee Ielpi, who briefly choked up while thanking his son, Jonathan, an FDNY firefighter who was killed in the attacks, for giving him the opportunity to meet so many amazing people like the students and teachers of McKinley.

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