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Students’ memories of September 11 still linger

by Amanda Hills and Jacob Schwartz
With Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 now 10 years in the past, memories of that day are becoming dimmer and dimmer for the generation of students who are currently in high school.
Students and teachers recall where they were when they first heard about the terrorist attacks.


Caleb Bromberg was supposed to have dance class after school on September 11. Instead, his dad picked him up from school and told him everything was cancelled. “He tried to explain to me that there was a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, which I obviously didn’t understand because I was in second grade.”
Before September 11, the television in his house had barely been watched, Bromberg said. However, “that night we all gathered around it and watched the footage. I still have a very clear memory of that,” he said.
Exiting Mason Rice Elementary School September 11, Katherine Norris said she “saw more parents waiting to pick up their kids than I had ever seen at school before.”
She said, “My parents didn’t allow us to watch TV for about a week after that. I remember that I couldn’t quite relate to it personally at first, but I did feel sad.”


Maeve Larkin knew something was out of the ordinary September 11 when all the teachers gathered together at recess. “They seemed to be stressed about something,” she said. “I did find out what happened later that day, but I don’t think my parents gave me all the exact details that I would later find out.”
Wei Wei Wan said he remembers that in the apartment building where his family used to live, chaos struck. “In our building, there was a television in the lobby, and I remember that everyone was rushing down the stairs as fast as they could to watch the news,” he said.
Tess Vasiliadis’ memories of the day include her kindergarten class being disrupted when her teacher left the classroom to watch the news. She said, “I just remember my teacher leaving and an aide being in charge. I remember the whole school being confused. My mom explained the gist to me. My whole family was just really upset.”
Simon Wolfe said he was extremely confused when he, a five-year-old at the time, heard that there had been a terrorist attack. “My brother explained the difference between a tourist and a terrorist, but my grandma was the first person to explain what had happened. She told me there were bad people in America and they killed people,” he remembers.


Jonathan Gomolka said he has few recollections of the day. “I was in preschool. All I remember is families taking out their kids for the day,” he said. “My mom said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll talk about it later.’ We went home and watched the news. I didn’t really understand the events of September 11 until I was nine.”
Ella Laniado said she barely remembers the day. She recalled, “Everyone was stressed and frantic. I was confused.”


Math teacher Nicole Conway said he was working as a student teacher at an elementary school at the time, so she was not fully aware of what had happened until she watched the news later that day.
“Because it was an elementary school, there were no TVs where you could watch the news. We didn’t want to scare the kids. I didn’t grasp it until later on,” she said.
“It was pretty terrifying. I remember feeling very vulnerable, like I had had this false sense of security that as an American nothing would ever happen to us. When President Bush came on and spoke, he was very reassuring.”
Math teacher Elisse Ghitelman was co-teaching a class at the time. She remembers former principal Jennifer Huntington making an announcement when the towers collapsed.
“On the fourth floor, the students were worried that they would be attacked because it was a tall building. People didn’t know what was next,” she said.
And, to add to the fright of the terrorist attacks, there was a bomb scare in the school the next day.
“When everyone went out to the stadium, we saw Air Force planes flying around,” Ghitelman recalled.
Remembering our scared, vulnerable and worried reactions upon hearing the news of September 11 is key to making sure we never forget the tragic losses of those who perished that day.
We need to continue to talk about that day in order to commemorate and honor all that was lost.

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