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Service Project

Volunteers clean around Williamstown High School to honor first responders

WILLIAMSTOWN — Volunteers did power-washing around Williamstown High School as part of a service project in honor of local first responders to commemorate those lost on the recent 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States.

A number of volunteers with the Education Alliance and students from local schools spent most of the day Tuesday power-washing the front exterior, trimming hedges, planting flowers and more at Williamstown High School.

There were 10 volunteers from the alliance and a number of students helping out.

Dale Bowyer, of the alliance and a AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) who is based in Williamstown and works with students, set up and coordinated the work.

Afterwards, representatives with the Educational Alliance and others presented certificates and gift cards from DaVinci’s to representatives of the Williamstown Police Department and the Williamstown Volunteer Fire Department for local first responders.

Williamstown Police Chief Shawn Graham said it means a lot to receive this appreciation from the local youth.

“9/11 had a profound effect on a lot of people, myself included,” he said. “As terrible and as tragic as 9/11 was, 9/12 seemed to be a better day.

“9/12 had everyone thinking patriotically and of America. I hope our country can get back to the way people were on 9/12, but it will never take away from the tragedy and sacrifice of 9/11.”

Graham was appreciative of the work being done locally, and commented on Williamstown “being a special place.” Students in school now were not around on 9/11 and Graham hopes they learn from the history of that day and what came after.

For many people who remember it, it seems just like yesterday when it occurred. Graham recounted having to tell his then-5-year-old son what happened and how it prompted his son to stand out by their American flag and salute it while tears ran down his face.

“I will never forget it,” Graham said. “It had a profound effect on me and my children and a lot of children in the world.

“The kids who weren’t there need to know what happened.”

Williamstown High School Student Body President Halley Landis said it was important to be part of this project .

“I wanted to thank all our first responders …who risk their lives on a daily basis to protect us,” she said. “Thank you for your courage and the sacrifice you make.”

The Education Alliance is a statewide nonprofit which mobilizes business and community support for public schools. The work done Tuesday was apart of the Americorps Mentor Program which helps students stay in school.

Education Alliance President and CEO Amelia Courts talked about growing up as the daughter of a Huntington firefighter.

“I grew up in a family that experienced the life of a first responder,” she said. “I have such respect for our police, fire departments and EMTs.

“The thing that stands out to me, when I think of first responders, is the sacrifice you make and the the service you do. My dad did both of those things with a smile.”

She also has an appreciation for educators and the work they do.

“We honored everyone with acts of service,” Courts said.

Contact Brett Dunlap at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com

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