On the Twentieth Anniversary...
Sayville High School Social Studies Initiative Gives Perspective of 9/11 To New Generations
“History is who we are and why we are the way we are.” - David McCullough
For its twentieth anniversary, Sayville High Social Studies teachers prepared a meaningful two-day presentation surrounding the context of the 9/11 attack and its aftermath. While still fresh in the memories of many Americans, this is not so for these Sayville students for whom the event happened years before they were born.
Thanks to the outstanding efforts of Social Studies teacher LynnAnn Perlin, who spearheaded the 9/11 program and enlisted the assistance of her fellow Tenth-grade Global History teachers: Steve Aronsen, Kaytie Ferremi, and Susan Hart, this new generation reached back into recent history to find perspective.
In addition to Social Studies classroom discussions, there were extension activities aimed at exploring not only what happened, but why it remains so historically significant. The students were given a set of questions and were tasked with becoming historians by interviewing adults of their choosing (relatives, friends, neighbors, first responders) who vividly remembered where they were when they first heard about the unfolding events. These questions included asking these adults if they shared in or witnessed the emergence of Patriotism after 9/11, as well as whether they would support 9/11 studies for generations of students.
Once the students had recorded these personal accounts, they created an oral history of the adults’ experiences which they shared in classroom presentations. The students were also asked to reflect on what they had heard and then, to write a statement about what they took away from the overall assignment. One student summed up the general reaction: “It is important to learn about 9/11 so that we know about the dangers of the world and what motivated the attacks. It is also important to learn full context and separate individuals from groups to avoid unnecessary hate and conflict, for example, stereotyping Muslims as terrorists and dangerous.”
Mrs. Perlin and her colleagues were impressed with the heartfelt comments and maturity with which the students discussed the issues.