West Michigan students remember, learn about 9/11

Otsego High School flast half-staff.jpg
Students learn about 9/11 on the 18th anniversary. (WWMT/Callie Rainey)

Students in West Michigan schools didn't only remember 9/11 they also learned about what happened. According to the U.S. Census Bureau a little more than 22% of people in the United States are younger than 18.

Portage Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Stacy French said he's thankful school districts teach students about what happened.

"343, that's the amount of firefighters that died that day," said French. "Remember getting a phone call from the operations side saying 'hey we've got a plane that crashed into a building.'"

French's children were too young to understand what was happening but old enough to ask questions.

"It was difficult. She was three, four years old at the time. My oldest was. So coming into that age where they want to know more. They’re interested in what’s happening. They’re looking at how people around them are reacting. Teachers that day were very somber," said French. "Saying hey mom and dad why do you seem so down today? What's going on?"

He said he thinks it's important for kids to be taught what's happening now because of this day in history.

"What I'm talking about are our men and women in service there still fighting that battle protecting our homeland because of the events of that day," said French.

Otsego High School Principal Herve Dardis said a recent graduate was deployed to Afghanistan. Otsego Public Schools were among many in West Michigan to reflect on the importance of 9/11.

"He needs to know why he's going but every kid in this school should also know why he's going," said Dardis. "These kids grew up after that so they certainly don't have any memory of it and anything they're going to know about it is what we pass on to them."

Dardis said a moment of silence was taken at Otsego High School which led to important discussions.

"Right after our PA announcement I was walking down the hall and I heard one of our English teachers talking about it. Why it’s important and why we take time today to remember," he said.

He said it's critical to teach students about what happened and our response.

"The response that was focused on protection. We need to focus on protecting our country and being aware of what's going on in the world," said Dardis.

Dardis said a moment was also taken to express gratitude and thanks to people who risk their lives to protect us every day.

Follow Callie Rainey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.