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‘Be courageous’ principal tells Woodcliff Lake middle schoolers at 9/11 ‘Operation Goody Bag’ event

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

A TRIBUTE: “Be courageous every day,” Robert Lombardy, principal of Woodcliff Lake’s middle school, told a group of pupils who this morning created goodie bags to send to U.S. troops as their way of commemorating the 12 th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The mission of “Operation Goody Bag,” as Lombardy noted, is to “remember those we lost on September 11th, and to express support and appreciation for our military men and women, veterans, and first responders.”

The service event was funded jointly by the Woodcliff Lake Educational Foundation and Woodcliff Lake Parent-Faculty Association. Attending were district Schools Superintendent Lauren Barbelet, along with all of the teachers, who assisted the 6 th -, 7 th – and 8 th -grade youngsters in stuffing the bags. Representatives from the PFA and the WCLEF were also there to show support.

“Most, if not all, of the sixth graders were born after 9/11,” said Lisa Yakomin,  a WLEF trustee and past president who attended. “They’ve never lived in  a world where the Twin Towers were part of the NYC skyline, and have  never known a world when we weren’t at war with Iraq.”

“For those of us with friends and loved ones who died that day, it’s a day of sadness and reflection,” she said. “Making this a day of service forces us to focus on something positive, and to turn this day into one that brings people together not to mourn, but to serve.”

Yakomin recalled Jack D’Ambrosi Jr., a Woodcliff Lake resident who spent the evening of Sept. 10, 2001 at Borough Hall trying to convince officials to correct drainage issues at the town’s ballfields. The next morning, he was killed at Ground Zero.

“He donated his time to try and make this community safer for the children of Woodcliff Lake,” Yakomin said. “His last night on earth was spent in service to others. I can’t think of a better way to honor his memory than to follow his example.”

(Tonight the town has scheduled a 7 p.m. memorial service being held at the Jack D’Ambrosi Jr. Sports Complex at the Old Mill.  The Woodcliff Lake Fire Department will distribute U.S. flags, and the Police Color Guard will lead the procession. Among those participating will be four 8 th -grade Middle School band members — Eddie Xu, Naomi Dym, Samantha Zuckerberg and Simon Castiel – who will play Taps.)

The middle-schoolers this morning decorated the goody bags with messages of thanks beforehand, and then the teachers lined up behind the tables to assist them.

“I want you to be courageous every day,” Lombardy told them. “I want you to think about how you can serve your family, your school, your community, and your world. What can you do to make a difference, and help make life better for someone else?

“I encourage you to find someone in need, and offer help,” he said. “Find a person that needs a friend, and be one. Find a problem, and be the solution.

“Find a way to make the community, and your world, a better place, and follow through.”

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