WESTBURY, Long Island (WABC) — In honor of the victims of the September 11th attacks, a school on Long Island is making it a priority to teach the history of that fateful day.
At Westbury High School, in between English and math, the students learn history. But on Monday, they learned about a very specific day in history: September 11th.
“Just hearing about it makes you feel uneasy even. Just to think about how people must’ve felt,” said 11th grader Katherine Guerra Ferrera. “How the medical people, how they felt. How scared they must’ve been to know that was going on and still trying to help other people.”
“No matter what they were doing they dropped everything. They went to help. And it’s really like heartbreaking but also emotionally warming because it because it shows the sense of community that can come from tragedy,” said 11th grader Adelina Santos.
The school’s principal says that students wanted to talk more about the day.
“A lot of the students did find us in the hallways and wanted to talk a little bit more about it. Which is great. That’s one of the goals,” Westbury High School Principal David Zimbler said.
To teach the students about September 11th is a living, walking piece of history.
Retired FDNY Battalion Chief Jimmy Jacobs was at ground zero on that day and on the pile for months after. He’s also a Tunnel to Tower ambassador.
“We’re never going to get too dark. We’re not here to scare kids,” Jacobs said. “We’re not here to depress them. We’re here to educate them about the events of that day.”
What is taught to the kids and how to teach them depends on their age.
Two middle school classes in Copiague got a lesson, and those students got a slightly different curriculum than the high school students.
“You got an 11-year-old asking you why would somebody fly a plane into a building? I don’t think anybody has an answer for that. I mean I know I don’t know why anybody would do that,” Jacobs said.
And the lessons aren’t falling on deaf ears.
Twelfth grader Robert Quezada, who is in the Junior ROTC, is on a path of service because of 9/11.
“It helps me value my life even more,” he said. “Knowing there were people in the building that couldn’t evacuate, and their lives ended really early.”
The school is making sure those lives are never forgotten, one classroom at a time.
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