By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, [email protected]
September 11, 2001- the day of the deadliest attack in U.S. history- left nearly 3,000 people dead and more than 6,000 others injured. 19 terrorists hijacked four planes resulting in the fall of the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center, major damage to the Pentagon and a crash-landing in Pennsylvania. Six of the 2,996 lives lost were part of the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) family, and on the 17th anniversary of their deaths, the school system honored them with social media tributes.
11-year-olds Bernard Brown, Asia Cottom and Rodney Dickens and DCPS teachers Sarah Clark, James Debeuneure and Hilda Taylor were aboard American Airlines Flight 77 to Los Angeles when five hijackers flew into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m.
“Less than 35 minutes into their trip,” according to the DCPS Facebook account.
The students and teachers were flying to California to participate in a trip to study ecology alongside National Geographic Society researchers.
The DCPS tribute shared a few facts and anecdotes about each member of their family lost in Flight 77 into the Pentagon.
Asia Cottom was a new student at Bertie Backus Middle School in Northeast, D.C., now the site for University of the District of Columbia Community College. Cottom’s father served as a coach and classroom aide at Backus. “Teachers remembered Asia as kindhearted and eager to help her classmates,” DCPS wrote.
“Bernard was the type of student who kept teachers on their toes at Leckie Elementary School,” DCPS wrote about 11-year-old Brown. “Bernard’s teachers agreed that he was showing real progress, and that was one of the reasons why he was recommended to participate in the trip.” He enjoyed playing basketball and aspired to be a professional player one day.
Rodney Dickens, was an honor role student at Ketchum Elementary School. He was a big brother and his mom had hoped he could be “a role model for his two younger brothers, as his two older sisters had been for him,” according to DCPS. An avid professional wrestling fan, “no matter what he was doing, ‘…he made it home to see wrestling,” his aunt told DCPS.
Teacher and mother of two, Sarah Clark, had worked with DCPS since 1965. At the time of her death she was a 6th grade teacher at Bertie Backus Middle School. “She was engaged to be married,” DCPS wrote.
James Debeuneure, who was teaching as a second career, worked at Ketcham Elementary School. “He was known for arriving early and leaving late,” DCPS wrote about the father of three.
Hilda Taylor immigrated to the United States from Sierra Leone in order to create. “Taylor was a teacher at Leckie Elementary School, teaching 6th grade,” DCPS wrote.