9/11 quilt hangs in WHS commons 20 years after tragedy

Emma Alderman | editor in chief

On the twentieth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attack we look back at how some Wabaunsee High School students commemorated the tragedy.

A year after the September 11th attack, three FCCLA students decided that they wanted to create something to commemorate the men and women who lost their lives that day. Lesa Hajny, a member of that group, spoke about what the process to create that quilt was like. 

“When we started our project we wanted to do something that would be patriotic and Larami Garrison, now Mitchell, Lacie Stuewe, now Cheely, and myself wanted something that could be looked back on for generations to come,” Hajny said. 

The idea for the quilt was inspired by a similar one that was made for Earth Day in 1996 and that currently hangs in the Alma Elementary School. When the 9/11 quilt was made, every student at the high school decorated a square. The group wanted all the students and staff at that time to have ownership over it. 

“We were thankful for the teachers and staff at the high school for giving all the students the time to decorate their blocks for us. One of the problems that we had was lack of enough students to have all the blocks decorated, so we were fortunate that students volunteered to make multiple blocks so every square was decorated,” Hajny said. 

The group put lots of detail into the quilt, even going as far as to write letters to the airlines asking them each to donate a set of pilot wings which were then attached to the quilt. Though they put a lot of time and effort into the project it ultimately didn’t make it to FCCLA nationals, but in the end that wasn’t the only goal for it. 

“The best part was that the quilt allowed everyone to be involved and reflect on their emotions from that day and time following,” Hajny said. 

The quilt still hangs in the commons today but that wasn’t always the plan. In 2013, when FCCLA adviser Diane Breiner was originally planning to retire, the quilt was moved so that the wall behind it could be painted. The quilt was offered to Breiner as a retirement gift but she was unsure of what to do with it. When the students returned from spring break they were shocked to find the quilt gone. 

Stephanie Maike was a junior at the time. “Finding out the quilt was not going to be re-hung after the painting was done hurt. I vaguely remember 9/11 but the work and memories that the quilt stood for meant a lot,” Maike said. She helped lead the charge to rehang the quilt. 

FCCLA members spent time campaigning to have the quilt rehung up in the common and after speaking to the board they were successful. 

“It made me feel amazing and I think that it helps show the leadership that being in things like clubs helps to foster,” Breiner said.  

Breiner said it’s wonderful that the quilt is still displayed. “I think it’s amazing that the quilt is still hanging in the commons as a twenty year reminder about what happened that day. We should never forget.” 

“I still love going back to the commons and seeing our hard work still being enjoyed. I have seen on multiple occasions parents showing their children which square they decorated and hope that they are able to feel the pride of being involved. It is definitely a sense of pride for me,” Hajny said. 

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