As we approached 9/11 this past week, I struggled a bit with what to do with my students in my classes this week. I wondered if my students would weary of the remembrance of the day, not because of any disrespect, but just in hearing about it every day for the past couple of weeks. Yet, I finally decided to show a documentary by Brooks Peters, who was in his second day of kindergarten when 9/11 happened. The documentary is entitled “The Second Day” (named so because it was Brooks’ second day of kindergarten in Manhattan on 9/11). He completed this documentary just recently at the age of 14, and recounts the voices of students and teachers who were at school in Manhattan that tragic morning. It’s a great documentary; you can view the trailer here, and get information on how to view it here.
Earlier in the day on Friday, Sept. 9th, our school conducted a memorial during our assembly period, in which members of the community recalled what they were doing the day the United States was attacked and thousands of people died. At the end of the assembly, I assumed that the 12th graders to whom I planned to show “The Second Day” wouldn’t want to hear about it anymore. I talked about it with a couple of colleagues, who shared with me that there may have been students who hadn’t had the opportunity to tell their stories, and it may be a good opportunity to do so.
When the time for class came the last period of the day on Friday, I asked them about the memorial, at which time most of them stated that they hadn’t had an opportunity to reflect on the event. I was surprised, but felt privileged because I had the opportunity to show the documentary to my students and to have them reflect on where they were and how they felt. It was interesting because my seniors were in 2nd grade at the time, and their memories were, for the most part, pretty clear. For that brief period of time, they had the opportunity to discuss the impact of that day on their lives and the lives of their families. And when the bell rang, they didn’t rush out the door as they normally would have. I even had the opportunity to continue the conversation a bit after class ended – on Friday afternoon at 2:40pm.
What a privilege to be able to share moments like this with my students. I am grateful to my colleagues who encouraged me to show it even with my reservations, because I had the opportunity to hear the voices of my students regarding an event that impacted so many lives.