Teachers have unique ways to educate students on events of Sept. 11, 2001
By Brit Milazzo
Public relations, BASD
The events of Sept. 11, 2001 shaped many peoples’ lives including the staff of Bellefonte Area School District. It's also affected the way many teachers teach about the events.
A few years ago, high school social studies teacher Michael Maney took a group of students to the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Somerset County, which helped educate the students about “heart wrenching stories of people (the guide) has met who were personally affected by the events of 9/11, so it made it more powerful for the students.”
When Maney first began teaching 15 years ago, he would help facilitate a writing activity that allowed students to write down their reflections from that day, using as much detail as possible including sights, sounds, emotions and more. That lead to a new assignment. About five years ago, as students were too young to remember the 9/11 events, Maney said he gave students an assignment to interview someone who was at least 18 years old on 9/11.
“During the lesson, I challenge students to compare 9/11 to other historic events like Sinking of the USS Maine in 1900 and the attacks on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7,” Maney said. “I challenge the students to find a family member or friend who was alive during both Pearl Harbor and 9/11, and have them compare the events and if both events would truly be days which will live in infamy, or if these events fade away in history as emotions fade away and younger generations were not alive during the event.”
Since he began that assignment, there have been at least five people who students interviewed who were alive during both events.
High school English teacher Kaysey Beury said she uses two articles to help educate students about the attacks. One, she said, is an editorial from the New York Times called, “The War Against America: An Unfathomable Attack.” The second piece used is a script of former President George W. Bush's address to the nation the night of Sept. 11, 2001. They first read the transcript and then watch the speech and discuss the tone of the message, what makes it powerful and whether or not it was effective.
“(It) had a profound impact on me the first time I read it,” she said about the NYT piece. “It was just one of those pieces that gives you goose bumps, and I use it to show how great writing can evoke emotion from the reader.”
Fellow high school English teacher Ashlie Crosson said 9/11 expanded her vocabulary – specifically with the word “terrorism” – and now shapes how she educates many students who weren’t even born yet when the attacks occurred.
“That's the day I learned what terrorism was,” she said. “I am always shocked and especially saddened when I talk to this generation of students about 9/11. None of them were born yet, and so their entire lives have been nothing but a post-9/11 world. I feel like America changed in an instant that day, and there's this innocence and carefreeness that today's students will never know because since that day, the threat of attack has never left (the) forefront of our country's collective mind.”