Southeast hosts 9/11 survivor, honors theater's namesake

Stand on the stage in the Jennifer L. Dorsey-Howley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Southeast High School, look up and to your left, and you’ll see a small blue light. It’s the only blue light in the theater.

Over time, it’s come to represent Dorsey-Howley, a 1985 Southeast graduate who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. She loved performing on the Southeast stage. Now when students perform in this theater renovated and named after Dorsey-Howley in 2009, they can look stage left, up toward the sky, and take comfort in that singular blue light in the wall.

Gordon Huie, a 9/11 survivor, addressed Southeast students, as well as friends and family of Dorsey-Howley’s, in that theater on Friday. He told his story from that day - and also took comfort in the memory of Dorsey-Howley.

“You see what happened with this auditorium that we’re in right now - Jennifer has created something so beautiful,” Huie said. “And look at that blue light over there. I know Jennifer is in this room, looking upon us right now. She’s listening to my speech and I’m hoping she approves.”

Huie was introduced by Southeast Principal Brent Toalson. Other speakers were Kevin Clark, the lead architect of the theater’s renovation, and Lincoln Public Schools Director of Secondary Education Pat Hunter-Pirtle, Southeast principal at the time of the renovation. 

Huie is the only 9/11 “triple,” as he referred to it. He was a survivor of the attack; he lost a relative - his sister - in the attack; and he was a rescue worker on the scene, a doctor who treated the wounded at a nearby hospital. 

When he talks about his experience, he doesn’t emphasize the evil acts of that day. 

“My goal, when I go around the world and speak, is to show you the good in people,” he said.

Southeast choir students performed at the end of Friday’s event. They’re performing in New York City during spring break. They’ll also take time to visit the 9/11 Tribute Museum.

Published: February 21, 2020, Updated: February 21, 2020