Superintendent's Corner

September 2021

The September 11th attacks on the United States will be forever etched in the minds and hearts of most Americans. Tragedy has a way of playing with our sense of time, making that awful day feel both distant and vivid at the same time. Even the oldest children in our school district weren’t alive at the time of the attacks, and as some of us may remember each detail and even still mourn those we lost, our students view the events through a very different lens. For them, it’s a day that reaches beyond their lifetime.

On that sunny, clear morning twenty years ago, I was a new principal at Lower Salford Elementary School getting our day underway when a parent called to tell us what was happening. I quickly checked the news and watched with horror as the towers crumbled and the nation braced itself for the tragedy that was unfolding in front of us.

I knew that it was my duty to inform our teachers about what was happening, and walked through our halls to each classroom, quietly sharing the news. For each of us, the goal was to make the day as normal and pleasant for our students as possible. We made the decision not to share with them what was occurring. Today, with smartphones in so many backpacks, that might have been a more challenging task. Somehow, we got through to dismissal without any major issues, and managed to come together as a school community in the days and weeks that followed. For a time, I recall feeling that our entire country had suddenly embraced a new civility and kindness, and we all granted each other a little extra grace and patience in the wake of what we’d endured.

Many from our school community have a personal connection, story, or loss associated with September 11th. I’ve heard several incredible stories from people who had a friend or family member who was supposed to be in the towers that day, but for some reason had changed their plans. I know people whose relatives served selflessly as first responders, helping in rescue and recovery efforts. Even if you don’t have a personal connection, there’s no question that you were touched by what you saw and witnessed: the unimaginable bravery of the crew and passengers on Flight 93; the terror of being near the Pentagon; the devastation, destruction, and horror in New York City.

Twenty years later, it’s important to stop and remember. Each of our schools have been honoring September 11th in age-appropriate ways. In today’s challenging times, I hope that each of us can take a moment to honor the memory of those who were lost. Let us once again grant each other that grace and patience that unified us at a time, now long ago, when we endured together as a community and a nation.

In Souderton Area School District, we will never forget.

Sincerely,

Frank Gallagher

Frank T. Gallagher, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools