Seniors at Massapequa High School participated in a virtual history lesson as they learned about the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks during a video conference with the Manhattan-based September 11 Tribute Center.
It was a unique lesson for the students, who were 2 years old or younger when the attacks occurred and, unlike their teachers or parents, have no direct recollections of the day. On Sept. 9, seniors in Laura Siegel’s government classes gathered in the library, where the video conference was set up using a Smart Board.
Sophia Prashad, a program associate with the Tribute Center, took the students through a slideshow as she discussed both the 1993 and 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the 15-year process to clear debris and rebuild the site, the impact of the attacks today, and the health effects on rescuers. She also talked about the Sept. 11 museum that was created, and the memorials in place to honor victims, including how the footprints of the Twin Towers were turned into reflective pools.
The students also heard from Ann, the widow of a New York City firefighter who died while rescuing people from one of the towers. She spoke of her “personal loss in the midst of an international tragedy,” and how she now volunteers with the Tribute Center.
“Her willingness to be so forthcoming with her story of personal loss, and her dedication to providing the students with an inspirational message at the conclusion of the video conference will be valued by our students,” said Brian Trapani, the district’s curriculum associate for social studies. “Her story, and this experience, should provide our students with a sense of understanding Sept. 11, 2001, national pride, empathy and dedication to go forward as active citizens.”
The video conference was coordinated by Siegel and librarian Jill O’Connor, and was an opportunity for students to not only learn about the events and historical significance of 9/11, but also interact with people who can help them truly understand the personal loss so many people felt on that day, and the days and years that followed.
The high school began the day with a commemorative announcement and moment of silence. Students throughout the district were encouraged to wear red, white and blue, and teachers in grades 5-12 led discussions in social studies classes which focused on service and sacrifice.