All News & Blogs
Students talked to relatives and others about their memories of that September day 11 years ago.
View More Images from this story
Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 9/12/2012
The sixth-graders at Rodney Thompson Middle School don't remember where they were on Sept. 11, 2001.
Most of them were not yet a year old.
That's why for the first time, the sixth-grade classes at the North Stafford school learned about the world-changing terrorist attacks as a historical rather than a current event.
Before the lessons, what the students knew about the attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon and the crash of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania was secondhand, from accounts of parents and teachers.
"Now our students don't remember," said sixth-grade history teacher Camille Swain. The teachers' goal was to help the Rodney Thompson students understand many aspects of the attacks, and the personal impact on all Americans.
Swain told them that she was teaching fourth grade in Stafford at the time of the attacks. She was most worried for her brother-in-law and nephews, who live in southern Georgia and are of Middle Eastern descent.
"I was concerned that my nephews would be discriminated against," she said Monday during the lesson. "But my nephews never had any discrimination. It shows the change in this country. We're open as a nation to everyone."
She said she wanted the lesson about Sept. 11 to teach the students about tolerance, as well as teaching the historical facts.
Swain also related the mood of the nation 11 years ago compared with today during the heat of the current presidential election campaign.
"Have you been watching the presidential election?" she asked. When the class nodded yes, she continued: "It's getting ugly. Everyone is a Democrat or a Republican. When [9/11] happened, that didn't matter. We were all Americans."
During the lesson, the children watched a video that detailed the events of the attacks and described the aftermath. They also listened to a recording of Swain and her son reading a book about St. Paul's Chapel in New York City, which stood amid the ruble around it from the fallen towers.
The students also learned about Osama bin Laden's background, and that the terrorists did not represent a country.
The children worked Monday and Tuesday to decorate stars to memorialize the victims of Sept. 11.