PADUCAH — Although many local students were not born when the 9/11 attacks happened, they understand what the victims went through and what sacrifices were made because of lessons in their classrooms.
Sam Curran, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Paducah Middle School, said his teachers played videos of 9/11 in class on Wednesday. He said during social studies, they watched a video about the people who never made it out of the Twin Towers and the calls that were made from inside.
Curran said seeing the video made him feel thankful for what he has.
"I don't have to be stuck inside of a burning building and to thank God for that," said Curran. "The experience that I've had, to have a good life and that I won't have to make that final call to home."
Then, during language arts, Curran and his classmates watched a short video showing news coverage of the 9/11 attacks from the viewpoints of different media outlets.
"Some of them have to keep their calm. Some of them have to stay cool, because if you see the news reporters panicking, then you're gonna' start panicking," said Curran.
Curran said he understand the importance of learning about 9/11.
"Real people went through real events, and you can't just forget about the people who went through that or about the people that had those experiences. Because you need to know about the tragedies of the people who died in the buildings. People who are jumping off the buildings. People who died from smoke inhale — in their lungs in the buildings. You really have to remember and honor them."
At Paducah Tilghman High School on Wednesday, History Department Chair Ashley Adkins talked about 9/11 with students in four of her classes.
"We did take time this morning to commemorate 9/11 and kind of just talk with the kids about what did they know about it, what had they heard, and then shared personal experience — where I was, what I remember," said Adkins. "And just clarifying some questions, because they are basing all their information on what they heard from other people or what they've gotten from other sources. So, just really talking about what really did happen, what we really do know. And then, they like to bring up alternate theories and things like that. And so we talked a lot about sources and where do you get this information and how do you get good information."
Since Adkins' students are between 16 to 18 years old, most of them were not born when the attacks happened. So, on Wednesday, many of them asked Adkins about her memories of that day.
Adkins recalled that she had just finished taking a Spanish test at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky. She was walking across campus when she stopped to grab a quick breakfast. That was when she saw the attacks on a TV behind the cash register. Adkins said she immediately went back to her dorm room, contacted her cousin via AOL Instant Messenger, and asked him if he saw the news.
"Remember being just really riveted and just sitting around the television all day, just trying to make sense of 'What is this? What has happened?'" recalled Adkins.
Adkins said although Wednesday's talk was a casual conversation with students, she will go more in-depth on the events of 9/11 toward the end of the school year.
"(When) we get to the 2000s on our timeline of U.S. history, that we'll really take a good look at what happened and how it happened, and our response as a country, and the response of individuals," said Adkins.
Adkins said her classes will read history textbooks, watch videos, and do projects — such as making posters and presentations — about the events of 9/11. There will also be questions on the semester final exam.
Adkins began teaching history at Paducah Tilghman in the fall of 2002, just a year after 9/11. During that time, discussions with her students about the attacks were a lot different than they are today, because those students could recall where they were when they learned the news.
"It was different in that it was all of us kind of reminiscing versus now, where they have lots of questions about, you know, 'Where were you? Well, did you think this happened? Did you know about this part?' But it was more of all of us sharing kind of that uncertainty and that grief together in the beginning," said Adkins.