Young authors from Kennett see NYC sites inspiring book

Friday, September 13, 2002


Katie Duncan

Daily Dunklin Democrat

NEW YORK -- As the nation and New York City listened to the 2,801 names of the World Trade Center victims, a group of second-grade students from Kennett, Mo., their teacher and their principal took part in a ceremony celebrating the hope of tomorrow.

The students, who wrote the book "September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right," took part in the opening market ceremony for the Nasdaq financial exchange on Wednesday.

"Today is just a bittersweet moment in our time," teacher Darlene Robertson said. "Our book could not have happened had it not been for the events of September 11th. On one hand we are very sorrowful for what people suffered a year ago but on the other hand we are celebrating the publishing of our book."

The book reflects on how the sun did come up Sept. 12 and life continued.

Once Robertson's class came up with a story, students worked in pairs and in groups, sketching pictures for each of the book's 29 pages. They then added color to their pencil drawings with crayons.

Robertson said the motivation for the book came from the way she saw New Yorkers rallying together after the attacks. She knew if they could do that, her class of first graders could write a book.

"It was a challenge to do," Robertson said.

Publishing a winner

After the rough draft was complete, it was given to the H. Byron Masterson Elementary School principal, Dr. Elsie Heller, to sign the final paperwork to submit the draft to Scholastic magazine for its Kids Are Authors contest.

Immediately, Heller knew she had a winner.

"It had a special touch to it that an average book does not have to it," Heller said. "Its powerfulness comes from its simplicity."

As second graders, Heller and Robertson agree that most of the young authors do not realize the significance of the trip or the book they penned in March.

"I wish I could be with them down the road when they realize just how special they were today," Heller said.

The students were invited to New York for three days by Nasdaq, and got to open the market on the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

"They will always remember the experience they, their families and their classmates shared," Robertson said.

During the three-day trip, the students traveled throughout the city seeing sight after sight including the Toys R Us store, the Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, Ground Zero, the Empire State Building, the New York City Library and Ellen's Stardust Diner.

For most of the 14 students on the trip, the highlight was Toys R Us, with an indoor ferris wheel and life-size, animated tyrannosaurus.

The experience changed the impression of New York for some of the group.

The trip also was more than some could have dreamed.

"The city was bigger, noisier and a whole lot faster than I could have ever imagined. I saw the advantages of living in a small community like Kennett," Robertson said

Student Jordan Tefft agreed with his first grade teacher.

"I think I would like to live in New York but after a month I would want to move back to Kennett," Tefft said.

The group were treated to the big sights of the big city. But the some of the students did notice that amid the skyscrapers and taxi cab something seemed to be missing.

According to Robertson, during one particular outing youngster Amy Johnson turned to her parents and asked if kids go to school in New York.

"That was the one thing I wished we could have seen on the trip was an elementary school," Robertson said.

The group returned home late Wednesday.

"As we are sitting here at the airport doing homework, they are laughing, talking to their friends about what they saw in New York, and never realizing that there are people all across the United States talking about their book," Robertson said.

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