NewsCovering Colorado


20 years later: How local educators are teaching the next generation about the 9/11 attacks

thumbnail_FSG Teaching 911v1.jpg
Posted at 6:37 PM, Sep 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-08 21:50:46-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Saturday marks 20 years since the attacks of September 11, 2001.

"It is crazy to me. I wasn't even alive when it happened so you hear about it and theoretically it was only a short while ago, but then it's like oh that was twenty years ago," said Emilia Keller, Cheyenne Mountain High School senior.

"It was told to you once and you knew immediately how horrible it was," said Kirstin Varallo, Cheyenne Mountain High School Senior.

Keller and Varallo don't have memories of what unfolded twenty years ago.

"People who were alive then, who have a memory of it can tell you exactly what they were wearing, where they were sitting. I think it is interesting because I can't even tell you when I first heard about it," said Keller.

They weren't born yet, but are now learning how that day changed the course of American history.

"They aren't abruptly teaching 9/11, they like to teach it through poetry, song and art. Through everything that a teenager needs to know about," said Varallo.

"My dad telling me about how he used to go to the airport prior to the event and he didn't have to go through security or anything. Now you have to go through security. My parents would have discussions about the proper way to act in security," said Keller.

Teachers who lived through the historic day are now tasked with teaching the next generation.

"We can't look at the events in 9/11 in isolation because it's a broader context of things. There is that trite phrase that the world has changed a lot in twenty years, and we know that but how do we put that in context for our students. What kind of questions do they get to ask, that we get to ask, to kind of further that kind of conversation," said Anton Schulzki, Palmer High School Social Studies Teacher and President of the National Council for Social Studies.

Like many social studies teachers, he tries to connect the historical dots to help students gain a better understanding.

"What's come from the recent events in Afghanistan," said Schulzki. "How foreign policy changed throughout the last thirty or forty years from the Cold War era to now the War on Terror which has been the defining moment for this generation."

"We usually circle around to it when it fits in the context. Later this year when we are teaching about the Cold War, the War on Terror chronically and historically," said Tana Oucido, Social Studies Teacher and Department Head at Lewis-Palmer High School.

Oucido says sharing personal stories of that time also helps students understand the events.

"When it first happened, I had my students in class and we did some journaling. I did keep them, and I can share them with my students," said Oucido.

While it didn't happen in their lifetime, students understand the significance of it being taught in the classroom.

"With everything going on in the world right now, it's painful to watch and hear about but we can't forget it," said Varallo.

Educators recommend the following resources to learn more about the 9/11 terror attacks. 9/11 Museum, University of Wisconsin, and the National Council for Social Studies.