PINELLAS PARK — Police Sgt. Tracey Schofield was on traffic detail when he saw a flagpole that would haunt him for months.
At 49th Street and Park Boulevard, Schofield noticed the unassuming memorial dedicated to the victims of Sept. 11.
"I just thought we needed to do more for that corner," he said. "I was struggling figuring out what to do."
One night, at 3 a.m., Schofield woke up and started drawing designs for a Sept. 11 monument.
He took the plans to the city. That corner isn't suitable, he was told. Another location was more viable, but there were disagreements over design.
Plus, the red tape would be daunting since Schofield wanted the monument up in time to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, he said.
Then an idea struck him. Since he is on an advisory board at Pinellas Park High School, why not build a memorial there?
He pitched the idea to officials at the school and they loved it.
"Part of the culture of Pinellas Park High is service to the community and patriotism. We are the Pinellas Park Patriots," said principal John Johnston. "We have student programs that align with the reason for the memorial."
The monument matches the school's criminal justice and first responders program that teaches students how to work in large emergencies, said Michelle Topping, the assistant principal who oversees the criminal justice program.
"We want to honor those who are lost and to remind them (students) that they are our future," she said. "We want to remind them how important their job is and how important these people are."
The project was fast-tracked through the school district and was approved in roughly a month. This left Schofield and school officials 29 days to get the monument up.
Schofield, who also heads a nonprofit called the Police and Kids Foundation, worked furiously to raise money and in-kind donations. A group of Pinellas Park students managed to raise $2,000 for his charity last school year, and he managed to get about $6,000 more.
"Various people come out to help," Topping said. "It's a very grass roots project."
It turned into a community project. Schofield, Johnston and Topping put in hours cleaning up a yard, pulling out a tree and planting flowers. A local business donated concrete forms for the monument. A tradesman helped with the brickwork. City employees pitched in.
However, Schofield hopes the money he raised covers the cost for the monument, which features a granite memorial and flagpoles on a star-shaped surface.
"Nothing is for free," he said. "We make money and spend money and we hope to break even, but it was never about the money. It's about leaving a legacy for them."
Schofield is happy with how the project turned out, and in time for the dedication ceremony today.
"Now it's there, I wouldn't have put it anywhere else," he said. "Now they (students) are not going to forget. They will be able to take their kids there for their 25th reunion, and the monument will be there."