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Students publish memorial book

September 09, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

President Bush is scheduled to receive a present in the mail by Sept. 11: A book about the terrorist acts of last Sept. 11, written by a fourth-grade class at Bester Elementary School, along with letters from every student and an invitation to visit the school.

On Friday, the illustrated book "We Stand United" was published online at the Board of Education's Internet site at www.wcboe.k12.md.us. The book is dedicated to those who died in and survived the attacks.

In January, the 21 fourth-graders in Debbie Robertson's class, working with Library Media Specialist Sharon Forrest, were urged to write a book for a contest. After considering whether to write a fiction or non-fiction book, the students decided to write a non-fiction book about the Sept. 11 attacks.

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The students did research - reading articles, going on the Internet and interviewing school employees and parents - before starting to do the writing and illustrations. Students said the teachers had them repeatedly make improvements so the book would be of good quality.

It was decided to title the book "We Stand United" and to end each page of text with that phrase, because the attacks brought United States citizens closer together, student Elisabeth Sharpe said.

The phrase also is a reminder that the nation did not fail as a result of the attacks, she said.

"It did not make us weaker; it made us stronger," student Chris Flippen said.

Student Chad Walker said he helped write a section about homeland security.

"There is more security than there ever was," he said.

Flippen wrote about how people need to be aware of their surroundings to watch out for terrorists, he said.

Flippen and others said they learned lessons through the experience of writing the book.

Flippen said he learned that "fighting never solves anything."

During work on the book, the students talked about how they felt about the attacks and debated issues, sometimes passionately, Robertson said.

It was difficult work at times but they completed the book.

"I'm proud of myself. I think we all were," Flippen said.

After finishing the book in March and submitting it to the contest, the class had a celebration at which they told friends and families about the experience of writing the book. Some parents said they would like to have their own color copies of the book.

The students called printing businesses and learned it would cost about $700 to $800 to have copies of the book made.

The students called local businesses and asked for $20 donations. Some businesses gave more.

The class raised more than $1,000 in donations, with which they paid for copies of the book and a $250 donation to Citizens Assisting and Sheltering the Abused (CASA).

To thank their supporters, the class held another book celebration in June, which was attended by members of the Washington County Board of Education, Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner and others.

"I thought it was a great project," Breichner said Friday. "The kids put a lot of thought and enthusiasm into it. You can tell just from when that program was being presented. And quite frankly, the teachers did an excellent job in guiding them in that process."

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