Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Stars Provide Message of Hope

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Stars Provide Message of Hope

Article excerpt

The Stars of Hope are meant to appear as symbols of freedom, resolve, strength and optimism.

Erin LaRossa and Alex Garrett never thought they would need them for their own back yard.

The Northern Highlands volleyball players, both juniors, played an integral role in bringing the National 9/11 Flag to their school for a special assembly this year on Sept. 12. That assembly kicked off a school-wide service project, called Generation 9/12, where Stars of Hope were created. The three-quarter inch plywood stars have been carved by the school's wood shop class, and students have been invited to paint them any bright color and write an inspirational message on them.

According to Northern Highlands assistant principal Mike Koth, the school has made about 200 stars. Some 80 are finished. Originally, the plan was to send the stars to Colorado, near the site of the Aurora movie theatre shooting, but events of the last week may have changed those plans.

"We had no way of knowing how bad this would hit us," said LaRossa, who lost power in her Allendale home Monday because of Hurricane Sandy. "It's definitely close to home and that's what this organization is all about."

"I think it would be great to send them to our own community," said Garrett, who was staying at a hotel. "I love the stars. They are really done well."

Garrett and LaRossa don't have strong memories of Sept. 11, 2001. They were in kindergarten at the time.

Last summer, the two girls were talking about how their fathers had seen the 9/11 flag, a tattered flag taken from 90 West St. that was flying one block south of the South Tower the World Trade Center. The flag has been displayed all over the nation, with communities adding stitches - some from other historic flags - as a symbol of national unity and recovery.

"It's our modern-day 'Star Spangled banner,' " said Koth.

LaRossa said seeing the flag at her school moved her.

"It really took me a minute," said the 16-year old. "I walked into the assembly room by myself and it was put up for everyone and I really had to sit down for a second. It took my breath away that something that special was in our auditorium."

Garrett put a red stitch in the flag along with many other students. …

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