Student revitalizes 9/11 Memorial Garden


Patriotism and pride in school and community runs in his family, and that’s why Alexander Guastella, a William Floyd High School rising senior, chose to revitalize the 9/11 Memorial Garden at John S. Hobart Elementary School for his Eagle Scout service project.

Alexander, who previously attended John S. Hobart Elementary School in grades K-5 (William Paca Middle School 6-8), has a special place in his heart for his former school and the 9/11 Memorial Garden in particular. “The garden is important to me because it was originally created in 2002 to honor the memory of the heroes who risked their lives during the tragedy and for our country,” he said. “This memorial was created as a tribute to them,” he added, noting the loss of one person in particular who was close to the Hobart community at the time: Lincoln Quappe, a member of the FDNY and brother of former Hobart teacher Tara O’Connell.

This beautification project took place in the spring and has been dubbed the “Daffodil Project 2.0 – The Re-Beautification of the 9/11 Memorial Garden.” With the help of some of his fellow scouts, family members and friends, Alexander led the project and did a full remodeling, including the installation of a brand-new sign, painting the original steppingstones, planting two burkwood viburnum trees side-by-side to represent the Twin Towers, placing new mulch, and the construction and installation of two new benches for people to sit and reflect. Not to mention, the planting of hundreds of beautiful daffodils, a perennial that grows each year.

Scouting runs in the Guastella family, as Alexander’s brother, Daniel, a William Floyd High School Class of 2020 alumnus, achieved the Eagle Scout rank by also beautifying the grounds at Hobart, and has done a tremendous job giving back to his community. Additionally, Alexander’s cousin is an Eagle Scout and member of Troop 414, while another cousin is a Gold Award recipient, the highest achievement in Girl Scouts. His uncle is a former scoutmaster of Troop 414 and his father is the current scoutmaster of the same group. “Our family is heavily involved with these programs to help better our community,” said Alexander. He believes the scouting tradition will continue with the next generation of his family.

“Alexander has always been a student that valued the importance of community service,” said James Westcott, principal, John S. Hobart Elementary School. “Historically, the 9/11 Memorial Garden has been a source of comfort and remembrance for our school community. Through his project, he has created a beautiful space that also honors the original design that was created by Hobart students and staff almost 20 years ago. His efforts are appreciated on a daily basis by our students, their families and our staff. His commitment to the William Floyd community is exemplary.”

Alexander recently filed his paperwork and application to officially become an Eagle Scout. He is planning a memorial garden rededication ceremony to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.