In a courtyard at , surrounded by history classes, sits the 9/11 Memorial Garden of Empowerment. The garden pays tribute to those who served the country, and those who died on Sept. 11, 2001, but also allows visitors to sit and reflect not just on the past, but the future as well.
It also symbolizes all the America has to offer for Avon Lake High School teacher Gjergj Haxhiu. Haxhiu, along with then-students Zach LaFluer and Kelsey Hamilton, were instrumental in getting the significant project off the ground. These days, Haxhiu, when he’s not teaching or advising the high school Key Club, can be found tending the garden, which is really a multi-faceted courtyard.
“When the 9/11 tragedy occurred it was very personal because it was this nation that has empowered me to be believe in myself,” Haxhiu said. He came here from the former Yugoslavia, “a nation that at the time was engulfed in a horrific civil war.”
He saw the move as a new beginning: “I felt that I could finally soar and that nothing could stop me. I want my students to realize how lucky they are that by chance of nature they have been born in the greatest nation in the world, a nation that empowers us to believe in our potential.”
Today the courtyard is a place to remember those who died on Sept. 11, 2001 and those who died serving the country. It’s also there to inspire students not to take their freedoms for granted.
“On that September day, we were attacked not because of our power, but because of our ideals. History has shown that democratic ideals cannot be eradicated. I hope as those heroes of that day look down from heaven they realize we will continue their American dream.”