AVON LAKE — Sam Naumann, a sophomore at Avon Lake High School, was just in third grade when terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11.
But he still remembers that day.
He was walking out of music class when his principal pulled his teacher aside and whispered something in his ear.
The 15-year-old still recalls his teacher’s reaction as his face turned red and he clasped his hand over his mouth.
Later that evening, Sam’s mother explained what had happened, as best one can to such a young child.
|CHUCK HUMEL / CHRONICLE|
|This structure in an interior courtyard at Avon Lake High School will become a contemplative pool.|
At that point, he didn’t exactly grasp the significance of what had happened. But now, as the Avon Lake High School Key Club president works alongside classmates like Zachary LaFleur, other Key Club students and members of the Avon Lake Kiwanis Club, he understands and wants folks to remember.
For more than a year, the Kiwanis and Key Club have worked to create the Garden of Empowerment, which will transform the school courtyard into an area that will serve as a memorial garden for those lost on 9/11, and as an area of study, contemplation and reflection for those who remain.
The idea for the garden, which has a $50,000 price tag, came about through the efforts of Zachary, who had been placing 3,000 flags on the school lawn to commemorate 9/11.
The 17-year-old junior was in fourth grade when the attacks occurred, but even then he says he realized that it wasn’t just the country that was under siege, but also the ideals and principles of freedom.
Together with Key Club adviser and special education teacher Gjergj Haxhiu, Zachary began rallying his classmates to work on the project.
While Haxhiu gives all of the credit to the students and the members of the Kiwanis committee, Zachary says it has been Haxhiu who has been instrumental in securing funding for the project.
The garden, which will not be fully completed until Sept. 11, 2009, is being constructed in an unused school courtyard.
“I want you to imagine an area that will serve as a beacon, an area that is surrounded by history classes and as students learn about the past they can look out at the courtyard that memorializes the American spirit of hope and determination,” Haxhiu says. “The site was selected because it is within the school, and our goal is that our 9/11 Garden of Empowerment will become a tool that will bring together the community and the student body.
“In the middle of the courtyard is the reflection pool that will be painted black, and it will symbolize ground zero. It will only hold 4 inches of water that represent tears for those we lost on 9/11. From this reflection pool will emerge a structure forming a victory sign. When it rains, it will look like the structure is crying. Behind it will be tables with inspirational quotes and a wall of 3,000 roses.”
The courtyard also will serve as an outdoor classroom and a place to contemplate and reflect, he said. At night, when people are driving down state Route 83 there will be light emanating from the courtyard toward the sky, symbolizing the hope that the students represent for the future.
So far, just $10,000 has been raised for the project and ticket sales for today’s concert, which is supposed to be one of the major fundraisers, have been slow.
Haxhiu and the others involved in the project are hoping to inspire more people to come to the show and see this unique project.
And this project truly is inspiring in scope and in representation, he says.
“People will be awestruck by how big it truly is,” says Zachary who is Ohio District governor for the Key Club. “I don’t think I’ve even grasped its magnitude yet.”
Contact Christina Jolliffe at 329-7155 or email@example.com.