Every time teacher Carol Petrallia visits Columbia High School’s memorial, she remembers Sept. 11, 2001. The first student council meeting of the year concluded as news trickled into the high school of the World Trade Center attacks. She walked into a room where a colleague stared out a window. “My husband and my sister are there,” said the woman, the first hint Petrallia had of the horrors to come.
The Columbia High School community marks the 11 members it lost with a memorial in the courtyard, and two permanent displays that flank the doorway. Petrallia, Chairperson of the Memorial Committee, explains that the CHS Student Council organized the display and memorial, which was dedicated on May 2, 2007. The displays and memorial were supported by the Achieve Foundation and the DePaolo Monument Company, says Petrallia.
As the memorial was dedicated, Duncan Sahner, Student Council president during 2001-02, recalled Sept. 11 at CHS.
“As I walked into homeroom on Tuesday, Sept. 11,” he said then, “the classroom television broadcast an image of the Twin Towers billowing smoke. Nobody was sure of what had happened. By 10 a.m., however, Columbia entered lockdown as administrators realized the scale and meaning of the terrorism.”
Shortly thereafter, he recalled, the idea of the memorial was born. Not only does it remind the community of those who were lost, says Sahner, the memorial is a message for CHS students and community members to “take stock of these lives well lived, and consider the legacy of your own life that you would like future Columbians to know and draw inspiration from.”
Christopher Colasanti, Class of 1986
Howard Kestenbaum, Class of 1963
Donald Peterson, Class of 1953, with his wife Jean Hoadley Peterson, killed on United Flight 93
Donald W. Robertson Jr.,Class of 1984
Douglas MacMillan Cherry, Maplewood
Kristen Christophe, Maplewood
Christopher Faughan, South Orange
Columbia High School extended family
James Coyle, firefighter, NYFD, nephew of James and Joan Lee of South Orange
Thomas Knox, Brother of Jim Knox, CHS teacher
Dorothy Morgan, Sister of Stephanie Rose, CHS teacher