On Oct. 2 a dedication ceremony was held at Schreiber High School for the September 11 Memorial Garden recently planted on the school campus. The planning of the Memorial Garden and subsequent dedication ceremony was co-sponsored by Schreiber Shrubbers and the Schreiber Student Council. This garden is in memory of four Schreiber graduates who perished on September 11, 2001:
Olga Kristin Osterholm Gould Class of 1953
Passenger on United Flight #93 over Pennsylvania
Martin DeMeo Class of 1972
New York City Fireman
Hazardous Material Company #1 (1981-2001)
Jeffrey LeVeen Class of 1964
Employee, Cantor Fitzgerald, World Trade Center
John "Pepe" Salerno Class of 1988
Employee, Cantor Fitzgerald, World Trade Center
This memorial dedication ceremony was an occasion to honor four wonderful people whose roots are in Port Washington, who grew up in this community and who went through the Port Washington school system. This ceremony was a personal memorial with people who directly or indirectly touched the lives of Olga, Marty, Jeffrey and Pepe - their family, friends, classmates, teammates, present and past school administrators, board of education, principals, assistant principals, teachers, guidance counselors, school association, Port Washington Fire Department and the Port Police Department. People associated with local organizations - Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington, Sons of Italy and the Knights of Columbus. Many of the people who could not attend the ceremony sent notes of sincere regret that they were unable to attend the dedication. Dr. Hugh McGuigan, superintendent of Port Washington schools from 1969 - 1987, wrote from Florida that "It is so sad to think that four of our innocent kids were victims of the September 11 tragedy. Unfortunately Mrs. McGuigan and I will be out of the country on the date of the memorial dedication but please extend my best wishes to all at the ceremony." Over 180 people attended the dedication ceremony from toddlers to senior citizens.
Master of Ceremony, John Broza, Schreiber English Department Chairman Emeritus, opened the program eloquently quoting from Shakespeare, Alfred Lord Tennyson and Emily Dickinson on the appropriateness of grief and that "the Oct. 2 dedication recognizes the grief felt as a result of the events of September 11, but it moves past grief to remembrance, love and hope. We remember the values, the talents, the personalities, and the dreams of Olga Osterholm, Jeffrey LeVeen, Martin DeMeo and John "Pepe" Salerno. We express our love for those four wonderful people. And finally, this dedication symbolizes our hope that we can have a better world and that the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are goals that we will not abandon." With these words, John Broza set the warm, sensitive tone for the rest of the program.
The National Anthem was then beautifully sung by 11th grade Schreiber student, Leslie Krotman. After guests were welcomed by Naomi Beckley, Schreiber Shrubbers coordinator, three poignant, meaningful speeches dedicating the garden were performed by Emma Fraser Pendleton, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment; John R. Lewis, Schreiber High School principal; and Nancy V. Cowles, board of education president.
Following the formal dedication of the garden, heartfelt beloved memories were shared of Olga Kristin Osterholm Gould by her brother William Osterholm ... of Martin DeMeo by his lifetime friend Dennis McBee ... of Jeffrey LeVeen by his son Andrew LeVeen ... and of John "Pepe" Salerno by his wife Danielle Salerno. As Jeffrey LeVeen's sister Judy White said, "It was very emotional and the speakers spoke with tears in their voices." There were very few dry eyes in the audience.
Next Robyn Schechter, executive officer of the Schreiber Student Council, gave a very moving and emotional speech on behalf of the student body. The theme was the same for each of the speakers at this ceremony - to honor and remember Olga, Marty, Jeffrey and Pepe - but each speaker spoke from the heart with his/hers unique, deep feelings in their presentation and the content of their speech.
During the ceremony, members of the Port Washington Fire Department formed an honor guard and stood at attention in front of the garden site.
John Broza's closing remarks for the program, "We have all been part of something quite wonderful here this morning. Now our spirits, as well as the spirits of Olga, Jeffrey, Martin and John, 'like a lark at break of day, from sullen earth arising, sing hymns at heaven's gate.'" The program then concluded with a bagpiper rendition of Amazing Grace in front of the garden performed by Andrew McDicken, pipe major of the Gordon Highlanders Pipe Band and last a soul-rendering taps was performed by Jeffrey Byrne, Schreiber's music teacher, leaving everyone present at the ceremony with a moving experience they will all remember with deep feelings. Chris LeVeen, Jeffrey's wife said, "The entire ceremony was dignified, yet emotional and we all went home touched and emotional." To quote comments made by Schreiber principal, John Lewis and Chris LeVeen, "The lovely garden is cleverly situated (on the lower west end of the circle in front of Schreiber) which can be easily visited by many future generations who will come to know it too because it's integrated into high school life. Emma Pendleton said, "When I entered the garden, I felt a sense of peace, serenity and the presence of those we came to honor."
Following the dedication ceremony refreshments were served in the Schreiber student cafeteria where a talented Schreiber student, Kelly Moran, played beautiful music on a grand piano for the pleasure of the guests while they ate, met the victim's families and had enjoyable reunions with friends. Set up in the cafeteria was a display of the September 11 Memorial Garden posters along with four guest books. The guests were asked to sign all four guest books as the families of Olga, Marty, Jeffrey and Pepe were each given a guest book to take home.
The September 11 Memorial Garden was designed by Frank D. Colanluono and landscaped by Joseph Strippoli of North Shore Garden Center. The monument in the garden was made by Antonio Ciotoli and Thomas Garofalo, school district maintainees. The first commemorative plaque on this monument reads:
"In Memory - Schreiber graduates who were killed on September 11, 2001 in the Terrorist Attack on the World Trade Center and on United Flight 93 over Pennsylvania."
The second plaque on the monument lists the names of the four graduates. There is also a rock memorial in the garden donated by Dennis McBee, Class of 1972. The plaque on the polished rock reads: "Duty - Honor - Valor ... A Grateful Nation Remembers the Men and Women in Uniform Who Gave Their Lives That Day and Their Comrades Who Served with Honor, September 11, 2001."
Special acknowledgement for initiating the Memorial Garden is thankfully given to Dr. Geoffrey N. Gordon, superintendent of schools and to Dr. Francis G. Banta, Schreiber interim principal 2002-2004. Also grateful acknowledgment must be given to the Student Council and their faculty advisors, Amy Prochaska and Patricia Burr who helped fund-raise for the garden and helped in many ways at the dedication ceremony and reception that followed. The success of the garden and dedication ceremony could not have been accomplished without the support and help from Maureen White Scott, Class of 1973; Joan Biscaro, Schreiber audio visual and co-founder of the Schreiber Shrubbers; and Eric Vonderhorst, director of school facilities and operations along with his loyal staff Sharon Widmer, Marion Rutigliano and Laurie Hirschhorn.