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Remembering 9/11: Teaching a generation that hadn’t been born when the towers fell

NEW JERSEY (NBC News) – For Americans 9/11 lives as an infamous day, when the country and the whole world changed in a matter of hours.

But, think about this, schools are now filled with students who never knew what life was like before the terror attacks and the aftermath that followed.

For them, 9/11 is a history lesson, much like Pearl Harbor, except there’s no set curriculum.

Max Pedarino is a high school senior and on 9/11 he was one month old.

“I’ve known about it my whole life,” said Pedarino.

He’s known about it but he and his friends are too young to have any first hand memory of the attacks.

“The room that resonated with me the most was the one with all the faces,” said Pedarino.

Pedarino and his classmates went to the 9/11 museum. A plan pioneered by social studies supervisor Lisa Torres.

“For me, the most powerful room is the firefighter room. You hear the beeping. You hear that beeping and you realize people attached to locators no longer here,” said Torres.

Torres worked with 9/11 family members to develop a curriculum. A way to teach high school students as the anniversaries grow.

“There was one comment I thought moving and important for students to hear.. although we were not alive on the day of the attack, it’s very important to be aware of the seriousness and sadness this day brought,” said Torres. “You’re teaching 9/11 like any other event. It’s becoming a kind of world war II or Vietnam war, however the teachers themselves, most of them have an experience. A personal connection to the event.”

Teacher Dawn Rivas and other educators took special training at the museum to relearn the timeline of events and remain objective.

“I actually went three times before I brought the kids. I wanted the lay of the land and make sure my emotions were in check,” said Rivas.

The magnitude still sinking in for a generation that hadn’t yet been born when the towers fell.

“It kind of hit me hard. How many lives were changed by it. And how massive an attack it was,” said Pedarino.

Dean Welte

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