By Tony Ault
Staff Writer 

San Jacinto High School students remember 9/11 terrorist attack victims


Last updated 9/20/2018 at 10:53pm

Tony Ault

The memorial wreath is set in the middle of the San Jacinto High School quad commemorating the victims who died in the terrorist attack Sept. 11, 2001. The wreath was placed there Tuesday, Sept. 11, following special student ceremonies.

San Jacinto High School students, Air Force JROTC cadets, teachers, school board members and city officials commemorated the thousands who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks Tuesday.

It was the 10th year the San Jacinto High School students conducted the early morning 9/11 commemoration event, remembering the 2,977 victims killed in the attacks that included 412 police officers, firefighters and emergency personnel attempting to save those in the Twin Towers in New York City.

Hundreds of students gathered at the quad before class and the school's 190 Air Force JROTC cadets lined up in formation awaiting the Pledge of Allegiance, the singing of the national anthem by the San Jacinto High School Choir and the posting of the colors before they laid down a wreath in remembrance of the 9/11 victims. Also involved in the special event was the San Jacinto High School band.

SJHS Principal Courtney Hall said, "We are honored and humbled to pause to pay respect to those who lost their lives 10 years ago today. Today's ceremony is just a small part of what San Jacinto High School contributes to our culture of community and caring."

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Michael B. Howard, senior aerospace science instructor, said before the ceremony, "Our purpose today is to raise the patriotism of the students but also to teach those involved leadership, management skills and also organizational skills."

Guest speaker for the commemoration ceremony was San Jacinto High School law enforcement teacher Connie Hensley, who was called on by the students to tell her story of the day the terrorists attacked. At the time she was employed as a approbation officer at the Orange County Juvenile Hall working with many juvenile inmates. She said when she arrived every TV was on in the facility just as tower one went down.

"I'll never forget watching this and seeing this. Is this real? ... this is not fake news, this is not fake." Henley said, remembering that moment. The facility was on "lockdown." Her first job was to calm down her 22 charges and herself.

"You understand, most of them were all gangsters," Hensley said. "They should be tough. Right? Not these guys. They were not tough, not by all means. My first business was calming them down and calming myself and keeping collected in that situation.

"They should have been tough but who wanted to be tough, but let's be honest," she said. "They didn't want to die in juvenile hall, and I didn't want to die with them. It was definitely a reality check for these little gangsters."

She said they too would never forget those who died that day. She recently visited New York and the twin towers memorial, Hensley said, and saw firsthand what once stood there and found herself thankful to live in the nation where people stand strong to defend their nation and protect the people.

When the ceremony was over the students filed back into their classrooms.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at [email protected]

Tony Ault

These San Jacinto High School Air Force JROTC cadets raise the American flag to half-mast in the high school quad during the Tuesday, Sept. 11, commemoration ceremony remembering the victims of the terrorist attack in 2001.


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