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The Student News Site of Olathe West High School

Owl Post

The Student News Site of Olathe West High School

Owl Post

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Public Safety Honors First Responders That Lost Their Lives on 9/11

Sophomore+Reia+Waliser+completes+the+stair+climb+on+with+her+class+following+behind+her.
Avery Mathieu
Sophomore Reia Waliser completes the stair climb on with her class following behind her.

The Public Safety program climbed the main stairs to honor the people who lost their lives on Sept, 11, 2001. On Sept, 6 and 7, during their block day classes the fire rescue students from the public safety program put on their gear and completed a stair climb.

The stair climb is an event that happens annually at fire departments all over the United States to represent the 110 stories of the World Trade Center Towers that the NYFD climbed in a failed attempt to save those trapped in the towers. 

During Firefighter Curtis’s second year at Olathe West he got the idea to bring the stair climb to Olathe West during the Kansas City memorial climb. 

“As I was standing there watching all this unfold I thought ‘I should do this for Olathe West too,’” Curtis said. 

He said that the next day he came into school and put everything together in two days and they have done it every year since. 

Sophomore Reia Waliser said that the stair climb means a lot to her because her father was a fire chief. 

“It’s kinda special to me to be able to do the same amount of climbs as they have,” Waliser said.

Curtis who has been in the fire department for 10 years and was in public safety during 9/11 says that the meaning of the stair climb to him is the sacrifice. 

“The dedication of first responders – not only firefighters but also law enforcement officers who died that day –that they knew that was a bad situation and they’re going to do it anyway, and if we could ask every one of them, would they be willing to do it again? I’d bet you every one of them would say yes,” Curtis said.

Curtis also added that the stair climb not only honors the fallen firefighters from 9/11, but it also prepares students for the realities of the physical challenges of the job.

“It’s just important to keep that memory alive and it helps us know what we’re going to have to do possibly down the road in our job,” Curtis said.

The climb is no easy task. Students must complete 35 flights up and down the main staircase while wearing heavy gear.

“I think the most difficult part is when you’re kind of in the middle,” Waliser said. 

Additionally, Curtis said just being tired is the hardest part, especially when your calves hurt and your legs start burning. He also said one of the hardest parts is the mental blocks you have to face while climbing. 

“When it’s tired and it feels like I can’t go anymore to just keep going, it’s a mental thing,” Curtis said.

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About the Contributor
Avery Mathieu
Avery Mathieu, Writer
Avery Mathieu is a junior staff member for the Owl Post. This is her first year on the staff. The other activity she is involved in at Olathe West is theatre. Outside of school, she enjoys reading, crocheting and listening to Taylor Swift. 

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