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“It’s more than a date”: teachers discuss 9/11 with students

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 5:52 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Wood County Superintendent of Schools William Hosaflook previously was principal at Ripley High School. On September 11, 2001, he was a new teacher there, when word came of the attacks on America.

“A student came in and asked, ‘did you hear that an airplane crashed into the Twin Towers’?’”, Hosaflook recalled this week. “At that point, we immediately turned on the television and just sat there in silence. It was a very emotional time.”

Many of today’s teachers were, themselves, students that day. And, in explaining 9/11 and its impact on their lives, they focus on the emotions they-and their own teachers-felt when they heard the news.

“It’s important to take that emotional side of it and try to show important it was,” says teacher Ashley Smith. “It’s not just a date, it means something more.”

“We use music to tie in,” fellow teacher Jessica Snider adds, “because many artists have reflected on the events afterwards, and continue to inspire.”

Smith and Snider are both teachers at Parkersburg South High School. Smith was an elementary school student on 9/11. Snider was a student at WVU-Parkersburg.

The 20th anniversary comes after the end of American involvement in Afghanistan: a military action that was a direct result of the attacks.

Says Smith: “It’s a unique time, because they’ll be able to say, ‘this is what happened today, as directly connected to this event that happened 20 years ago.”

And the teachers try to reflect on the worldwide impact. For the past two decades, terrorist attacks have also happened in major international cities.

“There is global impact of terrorism,” says Snider, “because they are our allies and work to fight terrorism on their shores.”

These teachers, and others, are in a unique situation. They’re teaching history that, indirectly, they were a part of.

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