Anyone old enough to remember 9/11 probably has very strong images from that day permanently in their minds, but as the years continue to pass, a new generation, too young to have memories of the attack, has to learn what happened. Our Candace Hopkins tells us how one local school handles those lessons.
EAST SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Students at Pine Grove Middle School in East Syracuse were glued to the video screen Wednesday as images of September 11th, 2001 flashed before their eyes. Most of these eighth graders were only months old at the time of the attack.
"They had talked about it before, but I was really little and I didn't really pay attention a lot, but in second grade, my teacher told us a story about one of these firefighters that went in and they saved over one hundred people,e, said Pine Grove eighth grade student Rhiannon Ellison.
Ellison has grown up learning about 9/11 through other people's stories. She can't tell you where she was when the towers fell. She's part of a new generation with no memories of their own of that day. But through the years, Ellison says the tales of the heroism that followed have been passed down by the adults around her.
"The last person they tried to save, the firefighter got them out, but the firefighter himself died, it made me cry. I thought about that the rest of the day, I was silent, I didn't talk, I didn't answer questions, I just thought," said Ellison.
Teachers say in the twelve years since the attack, their lessons on the subject have evolved.
"Before I was trying to extract their experiences and building on their experiences of the day as those students remembered it, whereas now, having students who don't have any recognition of it, giving them the tools to create their own reactions to it," said Pine Grove social studies teacher Kevin Michaud.
And teaching this subject is unlike most others, as these teachers all lived through the actual event.
"It makes it very challenging because of the emotion that's involved in the stories. I know in teaching social studies, not having experienced many of those events, it becomes easier to simply the story, where in trying to teach 9/11, having been part of the story, it becomes so complex," said Michaud.
But despite the challenges of sharing their emotional stories, many of these teachers say it has to be done to ensure these students understand the event that changed their and the country's future.