Patriotism was on full display at the Tulsa Tech-Lemley Memorial campus Friday thanks in part to the hardworking efforts of two Owasso students.
Ashton Piche and Isaiah Edwards are among about two dozen Masonry and Introduction to Construction students who have spent the last two weeks building a tribute wall at the central Tulsa school honoring the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Piche and Edwards collaborated with their fellow students to design, plan and create the wall as part of their semester curriculum commemorating the 20th anniversary of the national tragedy.
“It brings me enjoyment to see everything that we created over the last few weeks,” said Piche, a senior, who worked on the project’s centerpiece, a representation of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Edwards, a junior, who laid and leveled much of the wall’s brick, added, “I enjoyed seeing it all be put together for something for people to look at and remember 9/11.”
The monument sits in the center of one of the school’s workshops, and pays homage to the World Trade Center’s north and south towers in New York City, as well as the Pentagon and Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania.
Each unique element of the project — comprised of candles, a flowing water stream, a neon outline of the twin towers and 20 small American flags — is dedicated to honoring not only the victims of the attacks, but all the police and fire crews and first responders involved in the disaster.
Now in its 18th year, Tulsa Tech’s iconic wall memorial was spearheaded by masonry instructor Chauncey Kila, who guided students like Piche and Edwards through pieces of the wall’s development.
“This project is about a history lesson. They’re learning not only about masonry, but there’s some emotional learning that goes on,” Kila said. “I have them think about how meaningful this project’s going to be. The process of them building it, they don’t realize the impact it makes.”
Both Owasso students said they gained insightful, firsthand knowledge through their experiences constructing the wall.
“A lot of us, especially me, I came in not knowing how to do much of anything,” Piche said. “I learned how to lay bricks and how to keep it level and how to make it flat and in line to make it uniform.”
Edwards added, “All the bricks on top, I helped lay those out. Drilled holes through the back to get the electricity through it and plug it in. I helped sand all the bottom of the Pentagon.”
His workshop now serving as a patriotic memorial, Kila can rest assured knowing his students — and those of other classes — will walk away after seeing his pupils’ handiwork be put to good use.
“For me, 9/11 was a mile marker in my life,” Kila said. “And for my students, building this project is sort of a mile marker for their lives, because every time 9/11 rolls around now, they’ll always remember working on the wall.”