BELLVILLE – On his solemn day, The anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, a few of the children at Bellville Elementary School had smiles on their faces.
For 20 of the children there, it was a chance to see parents and some people they were told were very important.
It also was a celebration of what the school had earned. It was “Purple Star” day, a designation only 33 schools in Ohio have received.
Paolo DeMaria, Superintendent of Instruction for the Ohio Department of Education, visited the school, an event which was engineered by teacher Ashley Twedt, a Bellville military liaison.
Local officials, military personnel and police officers attended, honoring the anniversary of the 9/11 disaster. t
The children, it was acknowledged, hadn’t been around when two planes hit the Twin Towers in New York City. he Pentagon was struck and another plane went down outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
But the students had spent the past week and a half studying the history of the event, reading books and watching documentaries about that disaster, Twedt explained.
When DeMaria arrived at the building, two students helped greet him. They were Evan Hamilton and Kylie Waimath.
Kylie helped lead a tour through the building, and Twedt explained part of the history of the 100-year old school building.
DeMaria told the group gathered outside the building the Ohio Department of Education says “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
He said a school is nothing without support of the community. He said there is “evidence next door” that the school has many people committed to the building project.
The old elementary building, along with the Butler elementary building, are being replaced by new buildings.
DeMaria said state and local people have to work “hand in hand.”
On the tour, Twedt explained that the second floor of the building was constructed in 1894. The building comes across as a bit of an oddity because it has numerous levels.
The building, of brick, has an upper floor. But visitors could not get access to that because of safety concerns.
Before the event opened, William Bulanda, 5, spotted his father and ran to give him a hug. His father, Matthew Bulanda, is assigned to the 179th Airlift Wing of the Ohio National Guard in Mansfield.
Bulanda’s wife Kate and daughter Elizabeth also attended the event.
Twedt, in greeting the group, said thanks goes to the military and first responders. She said they “provide for us on U.S. soil and elsewhere.”
She said it was an honor to host the event, and also thanked Pete Lupiba, MIC3 Ohio Commissioner, for joining the service.
The group toured the building and adjourned to the gymnasium for refreshments.
An aide, Deb Crunkilton, without introduction, told the crowd people should know “Mrs. Twedt bent over backward” to make the event happen. She said it was “not about being recognized for anything.”
Twedt has family in the military.
Hearing the praise, Twedt said she’d “love to hang out.” but that she had car duty.