At one Staten Island high school, the lack of silence on 9/11 was deafening

Diane C. Lore, Staten Island Advance

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — At memorials and in their schools, homes and places of work across the country last Wednesday morning, Americans paused to remember with a moment of silence those lost in the September 11 attacks that shook the nation 12 years ago.

But at Tottenville High School, the lack of silence was deafening.

The school’s failure to commemorate September 11 — not even with a moment of silence — has people outraged.

Some have taken to the social media to voice their displeasure with the school’s new principal, William Dugan, whom they blame for the decision.

Senior Jacqueline Candella emailed the Advance with her displeasure. Her comments, which were posted on, initiated a flurry of Twitter exchanges and got more than 100 “likes” on Facebook.

“Every year on September 11 we have had a moment of silence on the loud speaker for those that were lost. This year there was no moment of silence or even a mention about September 11 on the morning announcements,” she wrote. “I find this disgusting and so does everyone else in school.”

An online search and a check of Advance archives show that more than 30 former Tottenville students died in the 2001 terrorist attacks.

“All over Twitter my peers are complaining how despicable our school is for disregarding September 11,” Miss Candella continued in her email. “I don’t know if having no moment of silence this year has any direct relation to our new principal, but it is completely disgusting.”

Past Advance stories show that the school had observed a moment of silence in previous years, and that the high school’s concert choir had taken part in the annual September Concert, which marks 9/11 with free public music.

“Tottenville High School is located in the state of New York, all students and faculty have some connection to the deaths in the World Trade Center,” Miss Candella wrote. “Why are schools in other states miles away having moments of silence, but we are not?”

“Tottenville High School did not have a moment of silence today. Truly unfortunate for them,” another student posted on Facebook.

The principal did not return phone calls from the Advance.

Marge Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said there is no citywide policy requiring schools to observe the September 11 attacks.

“This is a local school decision. There is not a requirement, but we recommend lesson plans,” she said. “We do not require a curriculum on 9/11. However, we do recommend lesson plans and they are available on our website.”

The website offers lesson plans that can be downloaded.

While Tottenville did not observe the September 11 anniversary, the majority of schools here did, either by holding special ceremonies or pausing for a moment of silence.

Port Richmond High School, for example, had a guest speaker from the Stephen Siller Foundation who spoke to students during a morning assembly.

“The purpose of the assembly program was to teach students not only the historical significance of the day, but to also to reflect, and remember what had occurred as well as honor those who lost their lives,” explained Vincent Medugno, Port Richmond’s coordinator of student activities.

Other Island schools observed the day by singing the national anthem, viewing videos, presenting the American flag, and having students wear red, white and blue ribbons. 

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