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Former students honor 9/11 through gratitude to Canada

Former students honor 9/11 through gratitude to Canada
September 10, 2021 Heather Janak

Former students honor 9/11 through gratitude to Canada

Twenty years ago 38 passenger planes were forced to reroute to Gander, Newfoundland amid terror attacks in New York City and Washington. The small Canadian town became a refuge for nearly 6,700 stranded passengers.

Locals welcomed the unexpected guests by opening makeshift shelters, preparing food and providing necessities. The kindness shown by Gander is still recognized today by Texas A&M former students and current teachers, Megan Croes ’18 and Madison Hughes ’18.

The Gander Project

After learning about Gander from the Broadway musical “Come From Away” in 2019, Hughes and Croes knew they wanted to incorporate it into their lesson plans. They began to teach their students about the kindness and selfless service shown in Gander on Sept. 11 and instructed students to write thank you letters to the people of Gander.

“Our students were amazed by the story, absorbed every detail and wanted to learn everything they could about it,” Croes said.

Their students asked about mailing the thank you letters to Gander. After reaching out to the town, they were invited to send the letters to Gander’s Town Hall.

“We didn’t know that Gander keeps every letter they receive,” Croes said. “Our student’s letters will be displayed in Town Hall for many years to come.”

Student letters and american and canadian flags at bottom right

Letters from Croes’ and Hughes’ seventh grade students to Gander.

The lesson becomes personal

Croes and Hughes met at Texas A&M while studying to become teachers and quickly became friends. Now that they teach the same subject, they enjoy sharing resources and brainstorming teaching ideas together. Croes teaches seventh grade English language arts at Davila Middle School in Bryan ISD and Hughes teaches sixth and seventh grade English as a second language at Beck Junior High in Katy ISD.

“As English-learners, most of our students can resonate with the people on the planes that landed in Gander,” Hughes said. “They know what it feels like to be dropped in a new environment, unable to communicate with those around them.”

When Croes and Hughes heard about Gander, they were reminded of the Bonfire collapse at Texas A&M that claimed the lives of 12 Aggies.

“This reminded us of Bonfire, which was such a tragedy, but at the end of the day a community comes together and really helps each other out in their time of need,” Hughes said.

Croes and Hughes hope to instill the value of selfless service in their students and that they will always take a little piece of the Gander Project with them in all that they do.

“We love Texas A&M and everything it stands for so being able to incorporate a project that resembles the core values is a dream come true for us,” Croes said. “We hope that our students never forget that a little bit of kindness can go a long way.”

About the Writer


Heather is responsible for news coverage in the Department of Health and Kinesiology, as well as the Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development.

Articles by Heather

For media inquiries, contact Justin Elizalde.

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