Before the school year even started, new Newton Community School District Superintendent Bob Callaghan made it clear Sept. 11 would be an important day of learning for his students.
On Wednesday, that message was loud and clear at Aurora Heights Elementary School as each classroom had individual learning activities taking place.
“We are talking about everyday heroes, like police and fireman and EMS workers” Talented and Gifted program teacher Sara Van Manen explained.
Van Manen had her students watch 9/11 Babies, a news segment featuring Diane Sawyer interviewing kids who were born after the attacks but lost their fathers during them.
“I thought it was really sad that they were born and were never going to get to meet their dads (or) maybe grandpas and grandmas that died,” 10-year-old Sage Fischer said.
They also read and discussed the book “Heroes of 9/11” by Allan Zullo.
“It tells us 10 true stories about what happened on that day,” 10-year-old Olivia Van Fosson-Rolff said. “I liked the ‘OK Let’s Roll’ one. It was about the hijacked plane that was trying to crash into the White House, and all of the passengers fought against the hijackers, and it crashed, and they lost their lives.”
Olivia wasn’t the only student who enjoyed that particular story the most.
“Because it’s when the passengers wanted to slap the hijackers upside their heads, until they were dead,” 10-year old Tate Hoskins said.
Sage preferred another story in the book.
“The chapter was called, ‘Oh, no, not again,’” Sage said. “(It’s called that) because what had happened was he saw the first tower, the south one, fall and he said, ‘Oh, no, not again,’ because he had to watch the other one fall too.”
“It was really sad, because he was trying help people, but at the same time he has to hold his feelings in so he can help people,” he continued. “Because if he just lets them all go and cries, people won’t feel as confident in being able to make it out (the building) alive.”
Van Manen’s lesson plan seemed to be paying dividends, as her students seemed knowledgeable about an important piece of American history.
“I don’t know too much, because I was born the year after, but I know that the Twin Towers crashed and that almost 3,000 people lost their lives,” Olivia said. “And the planes were hijacked by an Al Qaeda terrorist group.”
“It’s when the Twin Towers fell and the Pentagon got crashed into and when another plane crashed in a farmer’s field and the farmer got ticked off,” Tate said. “One of the main missions of the whole Army is to go after the terrorist and give them a beating.”
While the children learned about the tragedies of that day, they also said they learned a few things about the post 9/11 America.
“It tells about our country, that we are strong and can fight back,” Olivia said.
Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641)792-3121, ext. 426, or at, firstname.lastname@example.org