Garland County school districts remembered the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, through the use of age-appropriate activities with its students on Friday.
Melissa Anthony, a third-grade teacher at Lake Hamilton Elementary School, said third-grade teachers focused on lessons, discussions and activities about the heroes of 9/11.
Students learned how firefighters, police officers, first responders and the military worked to save lives during 9/11, but also how they continue to risk their lives every day to ensure the public’s safety, she said.
“These community workers are our everyday heroes. The teaching staff and the school as a whole wanted the students to hear firsthand from the 70 West firefighters about what they do and to learn some helpful fire safety tips. The students are also writing thank you letters to be delivered to our special guests to show appreciation for their service to our community,” Anthony said.
Ashley Leathers, a Hot Springs School District first-grade teacher, said the district activities included her reading the book “September 12th, We Knew Everything Would Be All Right” to her class, then doing an age-appropriate follow-up activity. Students from Missouri wrote the book.
“I feel like (the story) is important because I remember I was in school when it happened, and I remember how scary it was for me to see. Schools shut down for that day because the teachers were scared,” she said.
“The next day, not that we forgot or anything, they had to make our life as normal as possible. So, we kept doing our work and talked about the importance of the flag, and even though somebody was trying to harm us, and hurt the United States of America, we still have to stay united,” Leathers said.
She said she feels it’s important for her to read to the class from the eyes of kids.
“Life still goes on, and everything was going to be OK even though something scary happened,” Leathers said.
She said she hopes the students realize things are going to happen, and especially now, with everything that’s happening in the world, noting it will get better.
Jana Harrison, a fifth- and sixth-grade science teacher at Cutter Morning Star Elementary, said each year on Sept. 11 the district shares local newspapers that were released around the time of the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
“The newspapers we share are the Sept. 12, 2001, edition of The Sentinel-Record and the Sept. 15, 2001, edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,” she said.
Having local newspapers to share with students is an impactful way to teach about primary sources, Harrison said. Not only are they able to look at actual photographs taken the day of the tragic event, but they can also read how it impacted the community and the events of that week in Hot Springs and the surrounding areas.
“These newspapers are a great tool that helps students make connections to a national event at a local level,” she said.
Harrison said the attacks will forever be a part of America’s history. For the district’s fifth- and sixth-grade students, what they know about that day is based on what they hear from their teachers, parents and grandparents.
Every adult who experienced 9/11 has a story about what they were doing that day, she said, noting it is a day most adults, if not all, can vividly recall.
“For our students who were not yet born, these stories are another example of primary sources that help understand real-life moments in America’s history,” Harrison said.
She said the students listened to interviews of the 9/11 survivors and watched recordings of news reports given that day in 2001.
“We watched live events going on around the United States today that are showing honor, but most importantly, we let the kids be heard. They have many questions about 9/11. They have many thoughts about what they have been told and what they hear,” Harrison said.
She said as an educator, it is her job to let the students’ voices be heard, and on Sept. 11 of each year, that is what Cutter Morning Star Elementary does.
“It is very important that our educators take the time to provide an age-appropriate explanation of the tragic events of 9/11 to our students,” Stephanie Nehus, Hot Springs School District superintendent, said.
“I am deeply proud of our teams who planned for stories, activities, special presentations, or classroom dialogue today to highlight the importance of this date in our history, and most importantly to highlight the strength of our nation and the many heroes that came to the aid of Americans in need, on this day 19 years ago,” she said.
Volunteer firefighters Danny Eagledowl, left, and John Hackney of 70 West Fire Department give a 9/11 presentation to a group of Lake Hamilton Elementary School third-grade students Friday. – Photo by Richard Rasmussen of The Sentinel-Record
Main Street Magnet School teacher Ashley Leathers reads the book “September 12th, We Knew Everything Would Be All Right” to her students Friday. – Photo by Richard Rasmussen of The Sentinel-Record
Knights of Columbus Council 6419 member Fred Burban, left, delivers several dozen breakfasts to Arkansas State Police Capt. Ron Casey at Troop K Friday morning during the Fourth Annual Garland County Arkansas’ 1st Responders Celebration. The Knights, St. Mary of the Springs and St. John’s Catholic Church sponsored the event. – Photo by Richard Rasmussen of The Sentinel-Record
Every year on Sept. 11, Cutter Morning Star School District shares local newspapers that were released after the 9/11 attacks. From left are sixth-graders Maliyah Garner, Kenzie Geurin and Garrett Duncan. – Submitted photo