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Unique Class Project Covers 9/11 Anniversary
United Flight 93 was the focus of this exhibit in the EHS Performing Arts Center, with seniors, from left, Casey Vassallo, Kevin Gastelum and Benjamin Millard explaining its place in the history of the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Photo Courtesy Of Su Davis

Members of the First Responders class at Escalon High School put together a major project recently, then shared it with history classes at the high school on Friday.

“With the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 upon us, we found it important to start discussions with students about the events that took place and the impact it had on the First Responder community,” explained teacher Su Davis. “There are valuable lessons to be learned in these courageous stories. Teams of students were assigned 15 topics ranging from Emergency Response, Mourning and Solidarity, Health Effects 20 Years Later, etc. Overall, the students responded with excitement and were eager to be a part of the 9/11 Tribute Project.”

Davis, who teaches the First Responder courses at Escalon along with her husband Seth, said the class members took ownership of the project and spent a great deal of time preparing for the ‘living history lesson’ they presented in the EHS Performing Arts Center on Sept. 10. Su Davis was a US Navy Corpsman and Seth Davis also works for the Manteca Fire Department; both serve part-time as EMTs at Delta Speedway.

“Over the last few weeks, the students have demonstrated exceptional levels of teamwork and ownership and we could not be more proud. As teachers, this was an unforgettable event we lived through, and the details of that day live fresh in our minds,” Davis added. “For our students it’s quite the opposite, with most of our seniors born in 2004 this makes 9/11 a lesson in history. We wanted to make it real for them by submerging students into the details and testimonies of survivors.”

The various stations were set up in the Performing Arts Center and the history classes rotated through the exhibit during the day, with First Responders class members explaining each station along the way.

For junior Madellyn Spurgeon, the assignment became much more than schoolwork.

“It was very emotional,” she admitted. “My family is very patriotic and I think it was very important that we did this.”

Spurgeon said learning about it in school, she got the ‘basic facts’ about 9/11 but delving more deeply into it to put on the exhibit with classmates was eye-opening.

“I learned a lot of different things,” she said, adding that she has been to Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial there, which now has taken on an even deeper meaning for her.

Davis said they had planned to do a similar event last year but were not able to because students were not in the classroom last September.

“We’ve been focusing on it the last few weeks and now we’re at least talking about it,” she said of getting students to understand the role 9/11 played, not only in connection with First Responders but in the global War on Terror. “We’re starting the discussion.”

District Superintendent Ron Costa also stopped in to tour the exhibit and said he was impressed with the work that was done by the First Responders class and teachers.

“As I reflect on today, I can’t help but feel a sense of inspiration from observing our students,” summarized Davis. “I see a strong sense of goodwill and service in them and can’t wait to see how they will carry the lessons of the 9/11 Tribute Project into their future careers as First Responders.”

Detailing the massive emergency response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 was this group of First Responders class students at EHS, juniors Andrea Fuentes Calderon and Abigail Guzman Cruz, along with sophomores Jose Juan Romero and Mia Romero. Photo Courtesy Of Su Davis