Local teachers deal with Sept. 11 in the classroom


Liane Davis-Kling, U.S. history and American government teacher at Moffat County High School, said she was driving to school listening to National Public Radio last Sept. 11.

She caught the end of a news clip reporting on a plane crash, but didn't hear the entire report.

She arrived at MCHS and went to her classroom.

"A kid stopped me in the hall and asked, 'Did you hear about the World Trade Center?'" Davis-Kling said.

That's how she found out that the United States was being attacked.

She took her government class to the school library to watch the news unfold on television.

During that time was when one of the towers collapsed.

"It was pretty horrifying," she said. "We didn't go to the library the rest of the day."

She then asked her students to write about what they were thinking, and what was wrote was read at the next MCHS football game.

She also did the best she could to explain to students what the situation was in the Middle East, she said.

"I tried to make sure the kids knew where it was and what was going on," she said.

She continued to do that in her classroom as the weeks wore on, she said, but didn't change her classroom instruction.

A year later she said her classroom is the same as it was before Sept. 11.

"Not much has changed," she said. "If someone asks, you try to explain."

She said she did see an increased interest in world affairs in her students, and said they did not have a choice, but to be better informed. She compared it to the world in which she grew up.

"I remember being in the ninth grade during Vietnam," she said. "It was like tying your shoes. You were so overly exposed that it becomes part of your everyday life."

One of Davis-Kling's students, Alayna Kline, said she arrived at her first hour class and was asked to go to the library and see what was happening on the news.

"One of the towers was falling. I was in shock," she said. "I went back downstairs and was asked to tell the class what I saw, but I couldn't get the words out."

Kline said teachers talked about it in about all of her classes, and said students were allowed to go watch the T.V. in the library if they wanted.

Kline said she was glad school was not conducted like a normal school day.

For the next three months in U.S. history Kline said the teacher had students write in a journal about what was happening with the "War on Terror."

"We made a journal about what was going on and wrote about how we felt," she said. "It was really good for us. That is going to be a good memory for me to have."

Some students were scared about what the attack meant, especially some of the seniors, she said.

"A lot of the seniors who turned 18 and had to register for the draft were worried they might get drafted," she said. "But to a lot of teens it doesn't seem all that different because it didn't affect their lives."

On the anniversary of the tragedy, Kline expected teachers to set aside class time to talk about what happened.

Elisa Townsend, an eighth grade American history teacher at Craig Middle School, said it is a delicate issue in the classroom.

"The day it happened we talked about it a little bit," she said. "A lot of the kids were pretty upset. I try to keep it off of the emotional level."

One exercise she did with her classes was played the song "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel, which chronicles significant events of the 20th century.

"I tried to incorporate it when I talk about how history is happening," she said.

"I had the students write another verse to 'We Didn't Start the Fire' about what was happening right now and most of them wrote

about Sept. 11."

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