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‘Protect what’s important to you’

9/11 serves as example of need to be prepared

Kentwood — The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks occurred before Crestwood Middle School eighth-graders were born, but an activity last week to mark the anniversary served as both a history lesson and example of the need to be prepared.

“It’s something that could definitely happen again,” said eighth-grader Amina Ceric. “You don’t know what’s going to happen and you need to be prepared because life brings surprises.”

While thinking about the historic event that changed life in the U.S., students learned how to prepare for natural disasters — such as ice storms, flooding and tornadoes — and the difference such preparation could make in saving lives. 

Students also filled 700 emergency kits with flashlights, KN95 masks, battery packs, whistles and other items that could be helpful during a natural disaster. Each student kept a kit to bring home and packed three more for Crestwood’s sixth- and seventh-grade students. 

The event was presented by Heart of West Michigan United Way, with Americorps volunteers assisting, as part of their 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance initiative during National Preparedness Month. Speakers from the Kent County Sheriff’s Department and the Kent County Health Department were also there to discuss ways to react appropriately during a disaster. Items for the Family Emergency Preparedness Starter Kits were donated by United Way Worldwide. 

‘Our kids are getting to an age when they are going to be able to start taking responsibility and taking a role in our community.’

— Kent School Services Network Coordinator Melissa Dean
These things come in handy during a natural disaster

Melissa Dean, a Kent School Services Network coordinator, planned the event, knowing eighth-graders can step up as leaders in times of urgent need. Reflecting on 9/11 gets them thinking about how to react in such situations, she said.

“It’s not fear-mongering; it’s just a fact of life,” she said. “Our kids are getting to an age when they are going to be able to start taking responsibility and taking a role in our community … You can be prepared to protect what’s important to you.”

Eighth-graders listen to speakers talk about preparing for an emergency

Kentwood Public Schools students come from many different countries and backgrounds, and some know more than others about Sept. 11, 2001, Dean said. 

“There’s such mixed experience. Being able to educate them all on how to react to an emergency where you are living right now is very important,” she said.

Eighth-grader Peyton Hayes said the attack on the World Trade Center seems like a long-ago event, even though it was just 21 years ago. He noted that it shows the need to be ready for anything.

“It’s so nice to live a nice, prosperous life,” he said. “Being prepared can help you have a nice life.”

Water bottles are among items needed in an emergency
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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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