By Melanie Bailey
Special to BurbankNBeyond
Friday morning, the heart wrenching memories of September 11, 2001 were brought into clearer focus for the 2,700 students at Burbank High School – most of whom were only four to eight years of age on that horrific day that shocked our entire country and forever changed our way of life.
Also in attendance were some parents, invited guests and an impressive showing of several Burbank dignitaries. Under the guidance of BHS’s new principal, Hani Youssef and his talented Social Science Department made up of Government, U. S. History, and World History teachers, the entire student body turned out onto the athletic field during fourth period for an inspiring and informative presentation dedicated to the events of that September morning.
Beautiful patriotic music played beforehand creating an atmosphere of pride and reverence with flocks of white birds as if on cue, gently soaring high above under a clear, blue sky.
As the students prepared to assemble, they listened to a moving audio compilation created by Dena Zelig, DHH teacher, featuring actual words, commentary and descriptions of what was happening from multiple eye witnesses and other news sources. It can be heard on youtube.com by searching for Burbank High School 911.
Thanks to the efforts of ASB and its vice president, Stephanie Eskander, yellow tribute ribbons imprinted with “We Remember 9.11” along with red, white and blue ribbons were handed out to students and guests who promptly pinned them to their shirts.
After Youssef welcomed all the attendees, a somber, respectful mood was set as a military color guard made up of U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army soldiers presented and displayed our country’s flag. This was followed by the stirring performance of Brett Carroll, BHS’s award winning choir director, singing the National Anthem a capella. Afterward, Lt. John Dilibert of the Burbank police dept. a former BHS student, educated everyone about the significance of why flags are sometimes flown at half-mast at which time Greg Izay lowered the large flag that flies near the baseball field.
Mayor Jess Talamantes then took to the podium to share his thoughts about 9/11, followed by Fire Chief Ray Krakowski who spoke about the tremendous heroism and loss of life from the ranks of New York’s first responders and how the tolling of bells is such a traditional part of a firefighter’s life. One of Burbank’s fire engines was also in view and present near the field. And speaking of traditions, Lt. Dilibert then gave the audience an interesting insight into the significance and presence of bagpipes during many occasions of loss and grief.
Everyone was then treated to the authentic garb and true talents of Ben Gomez, under the direction of Nick Petoyan from Granada Hills charter high school, as Ben filled the air with the hauntingly beautiful notes of Amazing Grace that flowed from his bagpipes into the hearts of all those in attendance. Traffic on busy Glenoaks Blvd. slowed down and pedestrians stopped on the sidewalk to listen.
In closing, Mr. Youseff thanked everyone for attending and reminded the students to support the efforts of US History teacher, Mr. Ernie McGinnis, who is spearheading a campaign to raise funds that will be dedicated to providing much needed items for our troops overseas who still protect and defend us everyday. Many lessons were well learned this Friday about our country’s turning point a decade ago, thanks to the dedicated, caring staff that strives toward pride and excellence in all that they do at Burbank High School.
Photos By Ross A. Benson