Student made 9/11 sculpture comes home to Shrewsbury

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Assabet Valley Regional Technical High seniors in the Metal Fabrication program pose with their memorial sculpture with Officer Brian Sklut, instructor Neil Mansfield, Shrewsbury Police Chief Kevin Anderson and Officer Andrew Vanwagoner before the sculpture leaves for Shrewsbury. The students, left to right, standing, are Ben Cohen, Benjamin Kelly and Trevor Sarsfield. Kneeling, are Joel Carey, Owen Garron, Malory Baldinger, and Amber MacConnell. (Photo/Cindy Zomar)

SHREWSBURY – As cars pulled over for a police-escorted motorcade traveling Route 290 and the streets of Shrewsbury last Thursday, their drivers probably had no idea why a Shrewsbury Facilities truck would warrant such attention. 

Little did they know that a sculpture containing a piece of steel from the World Trade Center was carefully being transported from Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School in Marlborough to Shrewsbury to be stored while waiting for the town’s new police department headquarters to be completed. 

A remnant from Ground Zero

Several months ago, the Metal Fabrication program at Assabet was commissioned to build a memorial to the first responders who lost their lives on 9/11. 

For this, instructor and retired Navy Chief Neil Mansfield was able to secure a piece of steel cut from the rubble at Ground Zero to be the focal point of the sculpture. 

Assabet seniors took the project and ran with it, completing it before their upcoming graduation. 

As the police station site in Shrewsbury is still under construction, Public Buildings Division Manager Keith Baldinger will keep the roughly six-hundred-pound sculpture securely and safely stored until such time as it can be installed and dedicated to the men and women who died in the 9/11 attacks.

A bonding exercise

Assabet Valley Regional Technical High seniors in the Metal Fabrication program pose with their 9/11 memorial sculpture. Left to right, standing, Benjamin Kelly, Ben Cohen, Trevor Sarsfield and Joel Carey. Kneeling are Malory Baldinger, Owen Garron and Amber MacConnell. (Photo/Cindy Zomar)

Amber MacConnell was part of the team of seniors who built the memorial. 

She recently reflected on the sculpture creation process. 

“The design plans took a while, and there was the approval process of getting the okay from the architects and Building Committee,” she said. “Once we had the go ahead, we powered through, all working together.” 

“This was such a special project, we all had our specific roles, but we bonded together over it,” she continued.  

Classmate Malory Baldinger agreed, adding that she’s heard from many people recalling that they remember what they were doing on September 11, 2001. 

“My sister took her first steps in front of the television that was showing the scene,” she said. “That will forever be intertwined in my family’s memories.” 

The group of seniors also included Owen Garron, whose design was the one chosen, Trevor Sarsfield, Joel Carey, Benjamin Kelly and Ben Cohen. 

Carey, a Shrewsbury native, has been to the 9/11 memorial in New York.

This effort still prompted new introspection, though. 

“This project made me reflect back to the lives lost and want to really honor them with something I can show my kids someday,” he said.

100% student-built

A sculpture containing a piece of iron from the World Trade Center in New York waits to be loaded to a Shrewsbury Facilities truck for transport. (Photo/Cindy Zomar)

Mansfield praised his students, reminding Police Chief Kevin Anderson last Thursday that the sculpture was completely student-built. 

“They went to see the Shrewsbury site, did the paperwork, met the architects, welded, forged, and fabricated,” Mansfield said. “It is 100 percent student work.” 

Thanking the students, Police Chief Kevin Anderson described their efforts as “amazing teamwork.”  

“The First Responders were the ones running into the danger, and this will be really a good memorial to those that lost their lives that day,” he said to students. “On behalf of the town of Shrewsbury, we really appreciate what you’ve created.”

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