Pearl River Central High School students hold 9-11 memorial

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, September 12, 2017

It’s easy for most people to understand the significance of what occurred on Sept. 11, 2001. But time has passed to the point where kids in their latter years of high school were too young to remember what happened that day. Now they are learning about 9/11 as a history lesson.
“It’s not an easy subject to teach, but it is such an historical event and a turning point in our nation,” Roxie Lee, Pearl River Central High School history teacher said. “The changes and emotions that were felt nationwide were something no one will forget.”
For Lee, it’s not enough to only read about what happened on 9/11 and then test students. She tries to help every child understand how it felt that dark day by sharing her personal experience of 9/11. Lee said she hopes that her personal story will evoke the genuine emotions felt by every American 16 years ago.
“As a teacher, we must understand that these students are on the outside looking in. They don’t know how spontaneous this monumental event was and how it not only caught our military completely off guard, but it paralyzed America in fear. I can remember all the emotions I went through on that day like it was yesterday, and want my students to understand those emotions on a personal level,” Lee said.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Lee was teaching the normal history curriculum at PRC during what she said was a usual Tuesday morning. However, what she didn’t realize was that her lesson plan was about to change.
As she was teaching, she heard the news and immediately turned on the classroom television. Within minutes of the initial strike, the school principal at the time asked that all teachers turn off their televisions. However, Lee said she refused to shelter her students from such a historic event and demanded that her television be allowed to stay on.
“No one wanted to watch it, but you did; you had to,” Lee said.
Those students gained an understanding of the significance of 9/11 based on their own experience. Lee said every student in her classroom that day went through the same emotional rollercoaster as every other American.
“Every student was in tears in that classroom; I was in tears all day,” she said.
But for her current students who do not remember the events, they too have their own perspective of the significance of the event and how it impacted the country.
“That day was a turning point for America. It changed our perspective of national security. But more than anything else, I believe it made us stronger,” Tommy Arnold, PRC student and commanding officer of the NJROTC, said.
Other NJROTC members shared their perspective of 9/11.
“The tragedies were catastrophic, but it proved how strong the United States is. It changed the perspective of life itself for many Americans and really brought us all together because we were in it together,” Triniti Amand said.
PRC JROTC member Cody Quin added that 9/11 was a day that “terrorists made a monumental mistake against the United States. They didn’t think their actions would make us stronger, but it did.”
Christian Sherman, Kaitlyn Richie and Logan Gill agree that it made the United States stronger. Though they were less than a year old, they learned in class that life was much different before Sept. 11, 2001.
“Right after everything happened, a huge patriotic movement waved over the nation, particularly in the South. But as a teacher, I want to give my students the perspective of every angle during that day, not just the typical flag-waving southern point-of-view,” Lee said.
Overall, Lee said the biggest impact 9/11 had on teachers was fighting the rumors or incorrect information available on un-sourced websites.
“Every time I teach 9/11, I get asked the craziest questions by students because they were misinformed by what they read online. Before this segment, I have to teach them how to properly find factual information on the Internet and how to identify bad sources,” she said.
Monday, members of the PRC NJROTC led tributes to commemorate the fallen heroes and invited every PRCHS student to attend.

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