NEWINGTON - As memories of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks surfaced earlier this month, teens reached out to local emergency responders to say thank you.
Boys’ and Girls’ cross country teams from Newington High School presented Newington Police, Volunteer EMS and Volunteer firefighters with cupcakes and plaques in a tribute.
They planned the event with their coaches, inviting each department to meet them on the fields behind John Wallace Middle School before a track meet. Students sang the national anthem and handed representatives from each group boxes of treats from The Kakery, along with plaques recognizing their service.
Police Sgt. John Zematis joined Chief Stephen Clark and another officer in accepting the honors.
“It’s great anytime anybody takes time out of their day to show appreciation for what we do,” Zematis said.
The ceremony was originally planned for Sept. 11, the 17th anniversary of the attacks that left 2,977 people dead, including many emergency responders who sacrificed their lives to rescue others. Weather postponed the gathering until Thursday, but everyone still made it.
“It means a lot to me,” boys cross country captain Logan Dumas said of the sacrifices made by emergency responders. “They’re always out there working hard to protect us and support us.”
Girls cCaptain Julie Robinson agreed.
“It’s a very historical event that happened and it’s important to recognize them for their hard work,” she said.
Coaches Jay Krusell and Jen Deschenes encouraged students to talk to the police, fire and EMS officials who attended the ceremony.
“We hope all of you will seriously consider public service,” Krusell told them.
His daughter is already serving. Newington Emergency Medical Technician Grace Krusell accepted the gifts from the students along with fellow EMT Julianna Armentano.
“I think it’s very special of them to take the time out to reflect on 9/11 and bring the community together,” Grace said. “We’re often called out on peoples’ toughest days so it’s nice to have a time where we’re celebrating instead.”
Fire Commissioner Kent Stoddard called the gesture “fabulous.”
“It’s the way things ought to be,” he added. “Paying tribute to our country and remembering 9/11.”
Deschenes pointed out that both of her parents are retired police officers.
“This is really near and dear to my heart,” she said. “We’re incredibly grateful for all that you do.”
NHS Director of Athletics and Student Activities Chris Meyers makes certain these departments are aware of the locations of games and meets, in case incidents requiring emergency response occur.
“We do our best to condition athletes and go through emergency action plans, but god forbid a bad accident does occur, first responders play a critical role in our students’ safety,” Myers said. “We’ve built a wonderful relationship with the first responders in our community.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.