by Jonathan Weaver
Teaching students about the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks is becoming more of a challenge to some educators.
A group of fifth-grade students at Dayton Elementary learned a little of what the day symbolized by singing the national anthem during the morning announcements shortly after 7:30AM Thursday.
Lora Strayer is in her first year teaching music at Dayton Elementary, but has been teaching in the Armstrong School District since 2003.
“That was a very special thing we did specifically for 9/11 today – it’s not something we do all the time,” Strayer said. “When Mrs. Reiter came up to us and asked what sort of things we could do to make this 9/11 commemorative and special so the kids remember and learn about it, I had offered to have a small group sing.”
General Music students auditioned last week during class. Ironically, the five girls selected are all both in the school band and school chorus.
“They did wonderfully – as a professional trained with a musical ear, I felt like they sang perfectly on-pitch (with) really good tone qualities and pretty independent, too,” Strayer said. “They’re all new to me and I’m new to them, but I think they did a nice job working well together as a small group.”
Department concerts are normally held only twice per year, but Strayer said chorus students often perform during special assemblies – such as during Veterans’ Day in November.
The mini-musical “Frosty’s First Adventure” – a twist on the classic story – is slated to be the winter concert while the concert band performs some traditional holiday music with rhythmic differences.
The terrorist attacks 13 years ago were also not living history for West Shamokin High School History Teacher Michael Cornetti’s freshman class. His students would have been in diapers during the events.
“It’s becoming closer-and-closer to something that’s just printed in the book rather than something kids have lived through,” Cornetti said. “Every generation of people has those prominent times when the world stops – their grandparents are going to know where they were when (U.S. President John F. Kennedy) was killed, their parents are going to know where they were when the Challenger (space shuttle) exploded and my generation knows where they were during 9/11.”
Cornetti was a freshman student at Slippery Rock University in the university dining hall eating cereal when the news spread. He didn’t go to his remaining classes that day after being glued to the news coverage.
Cornetti’s students will discuss more of the War on Terror at the end of the school year as they progress through history.