Helping Postsecondary and High School Students Learn, Commemorate and Give Back on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11




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Uniting High School and Postsecondary Students Nationally for the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 to Remember, Reflect & Celebrate Resiliency:



Developing and Implementing a Unique Program for the September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance for Students to Learn, Commemorate and Give Back












                                                                                Mary Fetchet

                                                                                Founding Director


What is Voices of September 11th and Mission?


Voices of September 11th provides information and a range of support services and programs, including commemorative events, for 9/11 families, rescuers and survivors.  Through its 9/11 Living Memorial Project, VOICES assists families in digitally documenting the lives of the nearly 3,000 lost and the first-hand accounts of survivors.  VOICES promotes resiliency and best practices in working with victims of traumatic events.


VOICES is led by founding director and clinical social worker, Mary Fetchet, whose son, Brad, 24, perished on 9/11. Started in 2001 and established as a 501c3 in 2002, VOICES remains committed to its original mission of supporting the ongoing needs of those impacted on 9/11/01.  Our staff provide social work programs including assessments, teleconference groups, case management services, 9/11 Living Memorial workshops and annual 9/11 Day of Remembrance events.  VOICES serves more than 13,000 members.

In 2006 VOICES launched the 9/11 Living Memorial and to date has met with over 1,100 family members and accumulated over 60,000 pieces of digital content.

What is our Concept?

In 2009 VOICES identified the need for high schools and colleges to educate, commemorate and provide service each September 11th.  In 2009, we reached out to Bucknell University to help us pilot an approach to address this gap.  Through Bucknell’s Career Development Center we secured two Bucknell student interns for the summer of 2009.  The interns joined our team that summer and worked with us on shaping how the actual program could work at Bucknell with an eye towards subsequent expansion to other schools. 


The 2009 program consisted of a full day of events, plus a week of student volunteer commitments in the local community.  The day in 2009 included:

-        8:40 am – service including a moment of silence accompanied by a lowering of the Flag to half-staff at 846 am .  Remarks from campus religious, bells rung when second tower hit.

-        Noon – educational forum including faculty members on pertinent topics that help remember, reflect, build resiliency and giving back.  Departments with keenest interest include Political Science, Psychology, International Relations, Sociology & Anthropology, Economics, Religion, History and Environmental Studies. 

-        During the day – Added speaker topics such as preparedness on campus.  Preparedness is ideal topic since so many students on campus for first time each fall.  Showing screenings of 9/11 themed films help educate.

-        5:00 pm  Flag-planting ceremony – planting 2,974 miniature flags in an open field – one for each victim of the attacks.  Remarks on success of the day.  Performance by campus musical group.

-        “Service Week” for students in local community

-        VOICES 9/11 Living Memorial’s digital content used in the program and will document Bucknell’s Day of Service and Remembrance on the VOICES Living Memorial website.

-        The interns also suggested that Bucknell identify and name a “Remembrance Scholar” who would serve as a summer intern and then head the following fall’s Day of Service and Remembrance.  Flags, shirts and other items could be sold at the event with proceeds going to a charity of choice – in our case, Voices of September 11th.

-        Program was coordinated by Bucknell’s administration, Greek organizations and volunteers.

The above program has evolved at Bucknell and an even larger program is planned for the upcoming anniversary.  Again this summer, we have two energetic Bucknell interns who have helped shape the fall, 2011 program at their school.


Also, VOICES is working closely with New Canaan (CT) High School who has provided three interns for this summer to help further document local 9/11 stories and shape the high school’s 9/11 anniversary plans.  The Bucknell and New Canaan High School work and lessons learned have us well positioned to offer a thoughtful program to all high schools and postsecondary schools nationally – even if he schools have basic ideas on what they currently have planned for the anniversary.  The final version will be modular so that schools can pick and choose what works for them.


Who Will Benefit?


With funding we will package and roll out this program nationally.  We will approach all high schools and postsecondary schools.  This will add structure and help the schools further develop what they have planned to date for 9/11/11.  Students will learn, commemorate and give back in this annual program.


How Many Volunteers?


Based on our experience at Bucknell with 3,400 students, we expect Bucknell to have about 30 volunteers to lead the project in 2011.  Bucknell should have over 600 student (15% - 20% of total) participants in 2011.  With nearly 5,000 colleges and universities plus over 27,000 high schools (5 volunteers per h.s.) – total volunteers could exceed 300,000 nationally to coordinate – not to mention the students participating in the day outside of the committees.  These will be critical to assisting with the program – planting flag for each victim, raising awareness, building interest, securing speakers, etc. 


How will VOICES Promote this Program?


VOICES website will contain complete program information.  Our site had 10 million hits in 2010 and visitors have doubled so far this year.  We will also reach out to Universities and high schools through National Education Associations, Board of Education contacts and directly to schools.  Bucknell will help us in this effort – and we will quickly form a committee of educators.


How will VOICES Track Involvement of Volunteers?


VOICES will implement closed loop tracking by pinpointing a single point of contact at each school implementing our program.  We will ask each contact for volunteer summary data as part of our agreement with them.  VOICES 9/11 Living Memorial will digitally track the outcomes by school so that schools can learn from each other and better plan for 2012 and beyond.