A week ago, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, a special moment occurred among a group of teenage boys born several years after 2001. Here is the backstory behind the above photo and the beaming smile on the face of senior Emmanual Omari, who goes by Omari.
Omari joined the Country Day community this year, and since day one he has made an impact in the Upper School with both his intellect (he moved from 11th to 12th grade his first week) and his enthusiasm for school life. He wanted to be part of the varsity football team, so Coach Drew Witman found a spot for Omari as team manager.
In the team meeting before the September 10 game, Coach Witman told the players how the team would honor September 11 before the game by running out of the stadium with an American flag. “Omari raised his hand in the meeting, not to ask a question but to volunteer to carry the flag,” explained Coach Witman. “As I went on with my pregame speech, I remembered the conversation that Omari and I had the first time I met him just a month ago.
Omari joined the Country Day community this year as part of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program (YES). The YES program was established by Congress in 2002 in response to the events of September 11, 2001. High school students from countries with significant Muslim populations live and study for an academic year in the United States.
“I spoke to Max Dawson, the player who was going to run with the flag, and I told him about Omari’s story. He went right to Omari and invited him to hold the flag alongside him as they entered the stadium and ran the through the banner.”
On September 11, the school shared this Facebook post and several former faculty members shared their remembrances.
I will never forget the profound feeling of pride I felt in our school for the compassionate, loving, professional way our young people were navigated through that darkest of days.
Here is an excerpt from Warren Sepkowitz, Head of Middle School, in his weekly message to parents:
As I have done each year since I arrived in 2010, I speak to the students about the remembrance of those who died on September 11. Not simply those who died on that day, but I remind the students that these people had parents, spouses, children, grandchildren, grandparents, siblings, friends…The loss was more expansive than simply 3,000 people. I speak about the courage of first responders who did all they could to rescue and or prevent further loss in NYC, DC, and Pennsylvania. I remind them how important their education is and the sacrifices you and their grandparents have made for them, so that they can learn how to do the right thing and help others. Then, we end with some time for silence to honor and to remember. On the afternoon of September 11, 2001, current English teacher Ian Dennis, who continues to teach 8th grade English, had his students write poetry that afternoon on what they were feeling. He shared those poems with his current students to process 9/11. Here are some of those poems from 20 years ago from 8th graders at Country Day: