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Eighth Graders Grapple With September 11 Attacks

Utah teachers aren’t required to teach students about the events that transpired on September 11th, 2001. But at least one school, South Jordan Middle School makes it a priority.

Eighth graders in Kim Players American History class spent the morning participating in a ceremony for the 9/11 day of remembrance, Patriot Day. Now in class, they’re talking to Mrs. Players. She asks Walker Millet to tell the class what he knows about the day of the attacks.

“These people go to the front of the ship and hijack the plane and start taking it totally off course,” Millet says.

Then, he says, they crash into some of the most famous buildings in the world.

“There’s another plane that crashes into the pentagon. And then the fourth plane, they realize what’s gonna happen," Millet says. "And so these citizens go to the front of the plane, take the plane over and crash it into the field in Pennsylvania.”

That last part, about the ordinary people risking their lives to save others, that’s when their eyes light up.  Thirteen-year Jordan Heumann says he gets inspired by the heroes.

“You see these clouds of dust and smoke you know, coming down the streets,” he says. “So you see a bunch of people running away from it. Then you see a bunch of people running to it. Firefighters, policeman trying to get as many people out as they could and trying to help everybody.”

Players talked to her students about national security and prejudice against people of Islamic faith. She told them, the country at the time had a false sense of security.

“There are few moments in history like that. And honestly, I hope that you don’t experience one in your lifetime. But you probably will,” Players says.

Students told Players they believe the country is safer now. They’re not scared. But they are definitely curious about what life was like before it took so long to get on an airplane. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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