Among the guest presenters at Secaucus High School’s Third Annual Day of Respect, Remembrance, and Reflection were four rescuers and survivors from the World Trade Center on 9/11, and each shared their harrowing ordeals with the impressionable ninth through twelfth graders.
Secaucus resident and Port Authority Police Department Sergeant Robert Stone was a rescuer on both the occasion of the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and the 9-11 terrorist attacks. On the occasion of the World Trade Center bombing, Sgt. Stone was the only police officer injured, being blown across the room from the impact. Elia Zedeno was trapped in an elevator during the World Trade Center bombing of 1993, eight years later she made a harrowing escape from the 73rd Floor on 9/11. Brian Branco escaped from the 78th Floor of the World trade Center’s South Tower on 9/11, experiencing a difficult ordeal during which time most of his work colleagues perished.
Will Jimino, subject of the 2006 movie “World Trade Center” enthralled all in attendance with his captivating talk about being buried alive for 13 hours under 30 feet of rubble before finally being rescued. After his rescue, Will required 13 separate surgeries.
In the photograph above, the four World Trade Center rescuers and survivors pose for a group picture outside the Performing Arts Center. Pictured from left to right are Brian Branco, Will Jimino, Elia Zedeno, and Robert Stone.
Mrs. Jane Clementi, a native of New Jersey and devoted Mother of three sons, addressed the entire student body at Secaucus High School on the Third Annual Day of Respect, Remembrance, and Reflection. Jane’s mission is to make sure that our society learns the consequences of discrimination and bullying, as she learned all too personally through the loss of her son.
During her 55 minute presentation, Mrs. Clementi shared Tyler’s story, a recollection of a child surrounded with unconditional love that ultimately ended on a tragic and unnecessary note and ended in heartbreak. As a freshman at Rutgers University in the Fall of 2010, Tyler became the victim of cyber harassment at the hands of his roommate as a result of his LGBT orientation. Sadly, several days later Tyler Clementi ended his life by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. He was 18 years old.
Mrs. Clementi extolled the high school students to become upstanders when witnessing bullying behavior. The first step toward ending bullying is to make a personal commitment to stop it, report it, and reach out to the victim with support.
In the photograph above, Secaucus High School students Jordan Raia, Sally Rizzo and Lizbeth Perez pose for a picture with Jane Clementi at the conclusion of her well received school-wide presentation in the Performing Arts Center.
Secaucus High School held their Third Annual Day of Respect, Remembrance, and Reflection on Friday, October 20th. On this day speakers who have experienced personal tragedy and those who have lived through catastrophic events of the 20th and 21st Century, yet have resolved to make the world a better place address our students.
A number of presenters experienced the horrors of the Holocaust and shared their stories with the impressionable high school students. Alan Moskin, a member of General Patton’s Army, described his experiences as his company liberated the Gunskirchen Concentration Camp; Dr. Norbert Bikales shared his story of being expelled from school for being Jewish and leaving Germany as a 9 year-old through Kindertransport, although his parents were sadly murdered in a concentration camp. His wife, Gerda Bikales, shared her ordeal of witnessing the terror of Kristallnacht in 1938 and fleeing Germany with her Mother through Belgium, France, and Switzerland to escape the Nazi Regime. Ray Fishler spoke of being held in the concentration camp Krakow-Plasrow, the setting for the movie, “Schindler’s List.” Out of eight family members, he was sadly the only one left after the war. Rosa Sirota shared her harrowing ordeal of hiding out under assumed names with Ukrainian peasants as a Hidden Child of the Holocaust, and Maren Friedman, one of the few surviving Jews in Germany during the holocaust, spoke of the hardships she faced as a child of mixed heritage, with a German Father and a Jewish Mother.
In the photograph above, guest presenters Gerda Bikales, Dr. Norbert Bikales, Alan Moskin, Ray Fischler, Maren Friedman, and Rosa Sirota pose for a picture prior to their presentations with Board of Education Members Jack McStowe, Kathy O’Connell, Ruby Pantoliano, and Sharon Dellafave.