How 9/11 Impacted the Staff at CCHS

As America remembers the tragedy of 9/11, the journalism staff asked teachers how they remember the event.

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How 9/11 Impacted the Staff at CCHS

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Yanely Luna, Editor-in-Chief

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Lora Whaley: I was in my third grade class. My teacher turned on the news, and we watched the news coverage of the planes crashing into the towers. For the remainder of the day, we didn’t do anything and I believe school got dismissed early.

Kayla Knox: I was a freshman in my 2nd period English class when in happened. Everything was really strange at school, and we really didn’t do any work throughout the rest of the school day. My mom checked my cousin and me out of school shortly after lunch because she was afraid that there would be more attacks throughout the country.

Bradley Jamison: I was in graduate school at the University of Tennessee. I didn’t have a TV, so I hadn’t heard the news. I walked into class and heard everybody talking about it. I immediately left, went back to my apartment, and packed a “bug out” bag in case I needed to hit the road and go find my family in Manchester. We still didn’t know if the whole nation was under attack or not, so I was preparing for the worst. Fear, anger, and sympathy were the prevailing emotions. I left class to go home, so I’m not sure if they ended up holding class or not. As I recall, more than a few students were going home to watch the news and see what was next.

Matt Mueller: I was teaching at Warren Central High School in Bowling Green, KY. We were watching the live coverage on television. People were horrified and very afraid. We were told to turn off the coverage, but as a whole, the Social Studies Department refused to do so. We knew that this was a major event in our nation’s history and we were going to let the students see it, no matter how terrible. It was a Tuesday and our football game was moved from that Friday night to Saturday. Both teams (and most others that played) carried out American Flags for the rest of the year. Students realized that the USA was not immune to terrible events.

Brandon Mcwhorter: I was taking a quiz in Mrs. Pedigo’s Calculus class. I’m not sure we completely understood exactly what was happening until we saw the second plane hit live.  Seeing the plane hit and hearing that was a possible terrorist attack was an experience I will never forget. Seeing the live footage of people jumping out of windows and all the people running on the streets brought a hush over the class. We tried to comfort one another and wrap our heads around all that was happening. The rest of the day was the same, disbelief, as we watched the news coverage in every class that day.

Robert Harper: I was actually teaching overseas at the time, at the American International School in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  The school had about 600 students from the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.  Because of the time difference, it was after 8:00 PM in the evening as the attacks happened, and I watched live on TV in my home.  School was canceled the next day.  As this was a predominately Muslim country, and we had several Muslim students in the school, the reactions of students varied.

Katie Duke: I went to school that day. I remember walking into my classroom, and my teacher was crying. I didn’t understand why my teacher could be crying. However, I soon realized what was going on. We had one of those tiny, ancient televisions mounted in the corner of our classroom. I saw the towers, smoke and flames billowing from them, on the screen. I understood then that something really bad had happened. I was just eight years old, though, so I didn’t understand the devastation or the terror that most adults must have felt at the time. However, I will never forget entering my classroom that day. Afterwards, I remember almost nothing. I don’t remember if parents came to school to pick up their kids, or if we just continued about our day. I do know that it was the first time I’d ever seen a teacher cry at school.

Rhonda Winton: I was teaching eleventh grade English here at CCCHS, and when we heard what was happening we turned on our Channel One televisions. We saw the towers burning and people jumping from the windows, and then we saw the first tower collapse, followed shortly by the second tower. Students did not fully grasp the reality of the situation at first. The rest of the day was spent watching the news and waiting on more information because no one was focused on teaching or learning with such a tragedy unfolding.

Andrea Freeze: I was working in Payroll/Accounts Payable at Volunteer Automotive. As the news came across the radio, all work in the office just stopped. We sat dumbfounded listening to the radio report on what was happening. We were all in shock and wondering if our entire country was about to come under attack. It was a very surreal moment. I lived very close and at lunch went home, not able to eat, but just watching the news reports. It was the first time I actually worried about our safety within the borders of our country.

James Loveland: I was teaching AFJROTC in room 123. The event actually occurred right at class change going into homeroom period. Since we had no access to TV, internet, or live news all we could do was depend on those that did have news in their classrooms. It was a very depressing day with no answers as to who had done what and why.

Tisha Jaco: I was standing in line with my dad at Burger King when we heard from another diner that there had been an attack. All of the customers were talking about it and speculating about what had happened. After eating, we went to Walmart. Walmart had TVs placed around the store at the time. People were standing in groups watching the TVs. While we stood there, the first tower began to fall. It was just surreal. I couldn’t believe that it was happening. It was also very scary because no one knew where the next attack would take place. That evening, and for days after, the news was flooded with images and videos. It was heartbreaking. To this day, some of those images are burned into my brain – the people walking from ground zero covered in soot and debris, the man falling from the building.

Tim Knox: I was teaching my 3rd period Geography Class when a teacher came by my room and said that I needed to turn on the TV. I was shocked and amazed by what was unfolding.  It had a huge impact on my students as well, especially when we all realized that it wasn’t just a strange accident. I often see some of my former students who were in my 3rd period that day who tell me how they remember everything we discussed and everything we witnessed on T.V. together as a class, and that they will never forget those moments.

Allen Kittinger: I was here at CCHS. Ironically, I was actually in history class when it happened. To the best of my memory, we turned the TV on to watch the news as it unfolded, and many people throughout the day were in tears, both teachers and students.  In general, a lot of people were quiet, and I do not remember much of the rest of the day after it initially occurred.

Olivia Parrish: I was a junior at Warren County High School. We were in our theater arts class preparing the set props for our upcoming play when our teacher got a phone call on the classroom phone saying that two planes crashed into the World Trade Center. We were confused at why we were being told about it and what the building was in the first place. All he could say was that it doesn’t look like it was an accident but intentional. In that class, there was no TV so we just went about our business because we didn’t understand the impact of the event. By the time we got to English with Mrs. Wilmore, the TV was on and we watched the first tower fall on live TV. Mrs. Wilmore attempted to continue teaching but saw that was not going to happen. We were watching history happen on live TV. I recall seeing things fall from the second tower and wonder what all that debris was until someone said, “those are people jumping”. We all just sat in near silence as all of this played out on TV. I watched the second tower fall in Biology. Still, near silence as we watched the TV. I wondered how many people were still in the buildings, how many were trapped, how might they get out. We dismissed school for the day right after lunch, not knowing the local, national, or global impact of that day’s events. The next day was very somber. We talked about what we saw , and in US History, Mr. McGee, expressed how it would impact our lives forever. He was right.

Shannon Martin: I was in my fourth year teaching middle school reading. I didn’t really hear a whole lot of what was going on during the day, but then when I got out of school it was like the whole world was falling apart. There was a line at the gas station as everyone feared a gas shortage.  Then, I turned the news on.  There was nonstop coverage of the tragedy, and like everyone else across America, I was stunned and saddened. For what seemed like weeks, students were greatly affected.  The kids couldn’t stop talking about what happened, and many students gave me drawings which symbolized what America meant to them.  My guess is that it was the first time that many of them felt that level of insecurity.

Chasity Nicoll: September 11, 2001, was my first day of active duty at Fort Riley, Kansas. I was a 1LT in the Army as a JAGC officer. I was allowed to report later in the day because I was getting my things ready for my office. As I was watching the news reports of the first plane that flew into one of the towers, I watched live as the second plane flew into the other tower. I immediately knew that we were under attack and going to war. I called my husband, who was also a soldier, and asked if he knew what was happening. He did not. I told him to get our colonel to a television and call me back. Within five minutes, I had orders to report immediately to post (Ft. Riley). As I drove through the gates that morning, it was like any other day. As the day progressed all but two of the eight entrances were closed and barricaded. Armed soldiers were placed at the remaining two gates along with weapon positions and bomb-sniffing dogs. Long lines formed to get onto post as vehicles were checked with extended mirror wands and the dogs. We lived close to an airport and the skies went quiet. Our duty day generally had us going home around 5:00 p.m. We were not released that night until after 8:00 p.m. My husband was one of the first people back in American airspace before civilian planes were allowed back into the air as he and several hundred soldiers left for a war-fighting exercise in California. I traveled often back and forth to the east coast for the Department of the Army. We were told not to travel with anything (ID included) in our carry-on that identified us as military officers. We were given training on how to defend ourselves and others. I went from having a 40 hour work week to a 70 hour work week as we prepared for war. I assisted in drafting over 1000 wills for soldiers in the weeks and months after 9/11.

Michelle Smith: I was a school counselor at Smyrna High School. I was on my way to meet with a senior English class when our conference room TV caught my eye. I paused to see the first tower on fire and asked a colleague what was happening; she told me that it was a plane crash. I went on to the class I was visiting, but word began to quickly spread that our country had been attacked. I sat down with the teacher and her class and watched the events unfold on the classroom TV. Shock and disbelief set in, and the remainder of the day was spent watching horrific images flash before our eyes. As I drove home that day, I felt fearful, as air travel in our country had completely shut down. I received a frantic phone call from a friend advising me to fill up my car tank before the price of gas sky-rocketed. My stomach felt like an empty pit as I began to realize the world as we knew it would never be the same.  Our country was unified in immense sadness.

Susan Baldwin: On 9/11 I was not in a classroom. I wasn’t even a teacher at that time. I worked at the Carrier Air Conditioning plant in Morrison, TN. A couple of people called me at my desk stating that they couldn’t get on the Internet to contact suppliers and place orders. I thought we had a piece of equipment down and went to check on it. I remember walking down a hallway that lead to our manufacturing facility. The hallway had a large number of people standing in front of the doors watching the television we had there, and even with that large a crowd, it was eerily quiet. We all stood and watched for a few minutes, thinking that this was some sort of terrible accident. The news anchor then broke in tell that the second tower had been hit. I remember hearing him repeating it over and over. Turns out, no one could access the Internet because there were so many people accessing the online news to try and find out what had happened and get updates. Work in our office pretty much slowed to a stand still that day and production in the plant ran much slower than normal. People were trying to get information any way they could.

Angela Prater: I was on maternity leave with my oldest son, Ian, who is now a junior at CHS. I remember rocking him and watching the news coverage non-stop. It was a sad time.

Joyce Mccullough: My Honors English 2 students watched the national coverage on CBS on our classroom Channel 1 TVs. We were all stunned and very emotional throughout the day. I did not make my students work on their scheduled lesson.

Mary Jane Barton: On 9/11/01, I was teaching my Health Science class as usual and I was also the school nurse at that time. Just after 8 am, a student had a medical emergency and I went to take care of him, leaving my class under the watch of David Fiske, the marketing teacher at the time. This emergency was lengthy and I eventually called an ambulance for the student. When all was over, I went to the office to give my report of what happened and what I did. I noticed all the assistant principals and Dr. Johnson, our principal at the time, were all in Kenny Casteel’s office, watching television. I also noticed they really did not listen to my report, just nodded their heads. I thought, “What are they doing?” I went to my room and Mr. Fiske had turned on the tiny little TV I had over my desk and the students were all watching the news. They looked at me and said, “A plane ran into a building in New York City.” I watched a few minutes, thinking, “This is the craziest accident I’ve ever seen.” Then, we were watching as the second plane hit the second tower. This was no accident. Then we heard of other planes hijacked. The Pentagon was hit, and a plane crashed in Pennsylvania. The worst was watching the towers fall. I knew there was no way those people were out and that the emergency responders were going in as the workers were trying to get out. I was concerned for the hospitals in that area because I knew they would be overwhelmed with the volume of patients, but that never happened. There were so few survivors. For me, as a medical person, that was mind boggling. No survivors? My classes were very quiet that day. No one knew what to say. Parents came to check their students out the rest of the day. Some were crying, some were mad at everyone. Some parents thought that because of the base (AEDC) we (Manchester/CHS) would be a likely target. I do remember the base was on a lock down for a period of time, and that was unsettling. I left school at 3:15 that afternoon, something I don’t usually do. I just wanted to get to my house, where I knew I was safe and my children and husband would be there. I wanted to gather my family around me like a hen gathers her chicks. I remember on the way home, the sky was amazingly blue, with beautiful sunshine. There were no vapor trails from airplanes because they were all grounded soon after the attack. Lots of prayers were said that day and the next and on and on…