The event, new to EG, commemorates Sept. 11 attacks
On Monday morning, students from Cole, Hanaford, and Meadowbrook left their classrooms to high five and give thank you cards to East Greenwich first responders as a way of showing gratitude and in recognition of the service members who responded to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“For me, it’s a way to make sure kids at a developmental level have a connection with our first responders and get a moment to show respect and gratitude to them for what they do to serve in our communities every day,” said Coleen Smith, principal at Hanaford. “This is just a nice way to honor the day and the fallen heroes.”
The “high-five heroes” event started when Smith worked in the South Kingstown school district. She helped implement it in Barrington, where she was the principal of Primrose Elementary School, and now has brought it to East Greenwich (she was hired as principal at Hanaford this past summer).
One person who said that Sept. 11 had “personal meaning” for him was Supt. Brian Ricca, who was “born and raised in New York City.” On Monday, he thanked Smith, referring to the high-five heroes event as “her brainchild” before saying it was important to illustrate to students that “we support the people who run in when, more often than not, we’re running out.”
Smith explained that while introducing the event to East Greenwich was her idea, the day was meant to be about the first responders.
One first responder who fielded high fives from EG school kids Monday morning was EG Fire Capt. Bill Perry.
“Obviously, it’s a very sobering day,” he said, referencing the 9/11 attacks. “But it’s great to come out into the community and say thank you to everybody for supporting us.”