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Schools move to repair damage after flubs on 9/11 anniversary

Two separate school systems attempted to make amends Thursday after getting hit with criticism from students and parents for how their high schools handled the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

On Wednesday, the day of the anniversary, the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School omitted a traditional moment of silence, and Concord-Carlisle High School left out the Pledge of Allegiance, but had a Muslim poem recited instead over the intercom, sparking controversy and some outrage.

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Students at Lincoln-
Sudbury Regional High wrote to superintendent and principal Bella Wong after the moment of silence was left out of morning announcements. The remembrance was held Thursday.

“As you know yesterday was the 12th anniversary of tragic events of 9/11/2001 and different from other years for you I had not offered a moment of silence,” Wong said in Thursday’s announcements .

“I am and you should also be quite proud of the thoughtful way many of you took care to express yourselves in a way that was poignant and respectful amidst the many emotions the memory of 9/11 can evoke,” she said.

“My not having a moment of silence was my misunderstanding of what was the expected practice at L-S on this important anniversary,” Wong said Thursday. “I regret it couldn’t have been on 9/11, but I felt it was better to have it a day later than to not have it at all.”

This is Wong’s first year in the system, as interim superintendent.

Lincoln-Sudbury High senior Jon Skramstad said numerous students were upset with the missing remembrance on Wednesday. He felt that although a moment of silence may not be necessary, something should have been done.

“Maybe they are trying to let things wind down,” said Skramstad, who mentioned that there is not a moment of silence for the attack on Pearl Harbor. “I would have liked to see something done: It could have been an after-school event,” he suggested.

Jill Halperin, a parent of a student at the school, as well as the recording secretary for the Lincoln-Sudbury Parent Organization, said that people were upset but it was cleared up on Thursday. “I think [Wong] handled it nicely,” Halperin said. “She was appreciative that there are so many people that care about others.”

At Concord-Carlisle High School, principal Peter Badalament apologized to parents about the school’s opening ceremony Wednesday in which the Muslim poem was recited over the intercom, but the Pledge of Allegiance was not.

He said in a statement to parents that the poem was to promote “cross-cultural understanding” and that the Pledge was not read because of a mix-up with the student reader.

The combination of the two has “outraged a small number of members of our community,” Badalament said in an e-mail to the Globe, noting that the school received a handful of calls and about 10 e-mails from unhappy parents.

He said officials were only thinking of the well-being of their students when they chose to read the poem, Mohja Kahf’s “My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears.” The poem recounts a granddaughter’s account of watching her grandmother adhere to the Muslim custom of washing her feet five times a day, though it puts the pair in an awkward situation at an American department store.

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @jaclynreiss. Derek Anderson can be reached at derek.anderson@globe.com.
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