Tulsa Tech Students Build 9/11 Memorial
Chauncey Kila’s masonry students at Tulsa Technology Center begin the year in a memorable way. In less than four weeks, they design and build a 9/11 memorial. Kila’s class project has become a tradition at the school, beginning 10 years ago when Kila instructed students to build a U.S. flag because he had the materials to do it.
Pictures of past projects are posted on a bulletin board outside the classroom, and Kila said the most touching year for him was the time a mother who had lost her son in the attack came to see the memorial.
“The project gives the students an opportunity to work together,” Kila said, “plus it gives them a history lesson. Most of [the students] were babies when it happened. They’ll never know what it was like pre-9/11. We study it and watch videos about 9/11.”
Kila said that many of the students have never picked up a trowel before working on the memorial.
“It gives them something memorable. The students learn problem-solving, critical thinking and building skills,” he said. “I also get an idea of who the leaders are in the class.”
Eighteen-year-old Aaron Lyon, a second-year masonry student, said that building the memorial helped remind him of the people who sacrificed to save others.
“It changed the lives of a lot of people,” Lyon said. “It means a lot to us to build this.”
Michael Sims, another student, said that the memorial is personal for him because he is an army veteran who served in Desert Storm
“It’s special to me,” Sims said. “I lost friends at the Pentagon, so I took a lot of pride in building this. I stayed overtime to work on it. We incorporated everything – the flag, twin towers, flight 93 with 93 candles, the fire department crest.”
The twin tower structure incorporates a water feature, and there is also a poem written by Kila that is displayed near the towers. By coincidence, the back wall of the memorial measures 104 inches, matching the 104 stories of one of the towers.
“Mr. Kila is a great instructor,” Sims said. “He got us in the mood and he got our heart in it.”
Kila said he would love to have a space at a park donated so that his students could build a permanent memorial.
On Hallow Ground by Chancey Kila
On hallow ground
Lives were lost and lives were found
A place where silence made a sound
A noise heard the world around
Lives interrupted abound
As watchers stood astound
A moment in time is bound
Unforeseen heroes exist unsound
As spirits rise and hearts pound
A halo of hope begins to surround
Where once stood two buildings renowned
Memorials are carefully crowned
A new world of life and hope will rebound
In human kindness, fear is drowned
Freedom so profound
A new beginning is found
On hallow ground