High School East Chamber Choir Performs Anthem at Ceremonies Marking 9/11 Anniversary

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The High School East Chamber Choir performs at the St. James Fire Department's 9/11 remembrance ceremony on Saturday.

The Smithtown High School East chamber choir lent its voices to remembrance ceremonies marking the 20th anniversary of 9/11 on Saturday.

In the morning, the group performed at Suffolk County’s ceremony at the Dennison Building in Hauppauge, then at the St. James Fire Department’s ceremony. The choir then again performed the national anthem at the high school’s football game in the early afternoon.

At the firehouse ceremony, High School East student Sofia Regona played a taps solo on the trumpet. And fellow student Emily Garry performed a solo rendition of God Bless America.

The St. James event was particularly meaningful to choir director Mark Hegreness.

During the ceremony, a moment of silence was held for Douglas Oelschlager, who answered the call on 9/11 as an FDNY firefighter, and who also was a captain with the St. James Eagle Hook & Ladder.

Hegreness was teaching Oelschlager’s daughter on the day of the terrorist attacks 20 years ago.

Hegreness has ensured that the High School East chamber choir performs at the St. James firehouse ceremony annually since the service began.

“First of all, it’s a good experience for the students to understand the history and be a part of a community event like this one,” Hegreness said. “And it’s extra special for me to be part of this ceremony.”