Tragedy sinks in

educators help kids cope

September 12, 2001|By KELLY GRANT and MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writers

Savvy enough to watch the news but often too young to fully comprehend what they saw, students came to Imperial Valley schools Tuesday with questions and concerns about the apparent terrorist attacks on the East Coast.

"I'm in shock," said Christian Miramontes, 13.

As the John F. Kennedy Middle School eighth-grader sat in Diana Diammano's language arts class, she and her fellow students were instructed to put their feelings and what they've learned about the attacks into a multiple-paragraph essay.

Teachers such as Diammano found ways to address the event and students' questions while still providing an educational lesson. More important for Diammano, however, is the humanitarian aspect.

"I try to make them identify with the people (victims). I try to get them to empathize," Diammano said.

It can be hard for students to grasp the significance and ramifications of a terrorist attack of this magnitude on United States soil.


Miramontes, like many of her classmates, does not remember the Oklahoma City bombing and has little to which she can compare Tuesday's tragedy.

The distance from Imperial Valley to New York, though measured in a few thousand miles, seems a world away.

Kennedy eighth-grader Alyssa Stewart, 14, learned about the plane crashes from a teacher when she arrived at school Tuesday morning.

As she watched television's non-stop media coverage in science teacher John Lazarcik's class, Alyssa was thinking "how scary it would be" to have been there.

"I just don't feel like it could be happening," Alyssa said.

Lazarcik encouraged his students to talk about what happened and ask questions. Initially the students were hesitant to speak up, but soon the comments were flowing.

At Brawley's Barbara Worth Junior High things were similar.

Principal Brian Taylor's major concern was not to frighten the children and not "bombard" them with eight hours of news.

In Pat Rose's history classes the terrorist attacks were discussed.

"Someone asked me, ‘Is this the beginning of World War III?'"

Rose responded, "I don't know.

"I don't think they grasp the seriousness of it," she said.

Rose said her students talked to her about past terrorist incidents and the U.S.'s decision to not retaliate.

She added she was anxious to get home and learn more on the attack.

"I think it's outrageous and I hope they find out who is responsible and retaliate."

Taylor said student attendance was normal and he received a couple of calls from concerned parents regarding the attacks.

"We have been all over campus making our visual presence known," he added.

Students were handed a letter to take home to their parents reassuring them the school district has a disaster and security plan in coordination with local fire and police departments.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles