Sundial to salute victims of 9-11

The memory of Prince William County’s residents who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks will be preserved after the School Board makes some final adjustments to the memorial’s design at the county’s 10th high school.

The $40 million school includes a life-size sundial outside the building’s main entrance. Now under construction, the high school is scheduled to open in September 2004 off Neabsco Mills Road in Woodbridge.

The board chose to enhance the sundial’s design with an inscribed granite wall dedicated to the local victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The sundial would also assist students in the school’s specialty program — Center for Environmental and Biological Sciences. The program is currently offered at Osbourn Park High School.

Jim McCala, vice president of the Richmond-based Moseley Architects, presented the plan to the board April 2.

The concrete-based sundial would be 62 feet in diameter. Brass Roman numerals and insets would make up the time markings. A white triangular piece of concrete would be positioned near Roman numeral nine. When the sun hits the brass steel central piece of the dial, the shadow would point to the time an American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.

The central piece is about 12 feet wide at the base and nine feet tall.

The sundial would be built between the visitor parking lot and student/staff parking lot — just flanking the main entrance of the school. Two benches would also encircle the sundial, McCala said.

The main focal point would be an inscription on a granite wall, said Donald Richardson of the Gainesville District. The board has discussed ideas for the wall but will hopefully come to a decision at its April 23 meeting, Richardson said.

Inside the school, there would be a plaque listing Prince William County’s 21 residents who died in attacks.

How to memorialize the Sept. 11 victims was a question the board faced nearly a year ago when naming a new elementary school in the Ashland area. Following heated public debate, the board named the school “Ashland Elementary School,” instead of in honor of Jeff Simpson, a former Montclair resident killed in the World Trade Center.

The board said then it would consider incorporating a memorial for all victims of Sept. 11 who lived in Prince William County at a future school.

“What we’re memorializing here are all the Prince William County citizens who died that day,” Richardson stressed at a meeting April 2. Richardson and Joan Ferlazzo, of the Dumfries District, serve on a subcommittee for the memorial’s design.

At the meeting, Edward L. Kelly, Prince William County school superintendent, suggested the mascot could be the “Patriot.” Students are also joining the effort to commemorate Sept. 11 by thinking of a mascot for the school, Robert Ferrebee, associate superintendent of management said.

“Freedom High School” is a name under discussion for the school. The board will decide on the final design, name of the school and an inscription for the monument at a meeting April 23, Richardson said.

Staff writer Jennifer Brennan can be reached at (703) 368-3101, Ext. 123.

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