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One step at a time. West High School students honor firefighters killed on 9/11

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Posted at 5:09 PM, Sep 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-11 20:59:36-04
  • Green Bay West High School students climbed the gym bleachers 11 times to pay tribute to the firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11
  • Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks, including 343 firefighters
  • The video above explains what students learned from the stair climb

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — West High School in Green Bay honored the firefighters who lost their lives at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, by doing a bleacher climb inside the school's gym Monday.
"It shows a lot about our nation and what we can do for each other," West High School senior Petra Sitnikau said.

Many of those who climbed the bleachers weren't even born yet when nearly 3,000 people were killed on 9/11, including 343 New York City Fire Department firefighters.

But students who walked the bleachers, including Sitnikau and senior Alisa Lee, said it was a learning experience for them.

"I am very appreciative for, like, all the things that I have in my life," Lee said. "Even though I didn't live through it, it still makes me think, like dang, I got to appreciate what I've been given, and what I can do right now, and what they've done for us."

Students walked the bleachers 11 times. The Green Bay Area Public School District said that's equivalent to 1/10 of the 110 stories the firefighters climbed at the Twin Towers.

"I just can't imagine what it was actually like that day," Lee said. "If I only went through one, little round with that backpack, it's got to be so much harder for them on that day when it happened."

The Wisconsin Army National Guard brought rucks for students to wear while they climbed the bleachers.

Recruiter Alyssa Martin said some of the backpacks weigh 75 pounds.

"You might have seen the superintendent was out here earlier," Martin said. "He actually put on our heaviest ruck, and he had quite a sweat going by the time he finished."

"Only going one round with that backpack, it was so hard, honestly," Lee said. "I was really sweating."

A good learning experience, and an opportunity for the students to tell the younger generation what this day means.

"It is a part of you of who you are, and your history, and basically your lifetime," Sitnikau said.

The bleacher climb was also West High School's first Fuel Up to Play 60 event. It is a project for students to be active for 60 minutes a day.