Friday, September 9, 2011
The day everything changed
By Rebecca DiFede
Tuesday Sept. 11, 2001 started out like any other school day at my middle school in Summit, New Jersey, a small town about an hour outside of New York City. The sun was shining at 7am when I reluctantly succumbed to my alarm clock and got ready for my second week of seventh grade.
At 8am sharp I reported to my first period Life Science class, eager to learn about photosynthesis and the water cycle. Then on to Spanish class for second period, and then I trudged up the hard marble stairs for the start of third period. My third period class was Language Arts, and my teacher Mrs. Mariano was teaching us how to diagram sentences.
She was a jolly woman; tall and round with bright blonde hair. I had never once seen her frown, not even when she was handing out reprimands, which she rarely ever did. Her smile was ubiquitous, that is, until she got a phone call. “Mrs. Mariano, Room 243” she said into the receiver, her bright ever-present smile flashing from across the classroom. But as she listened to the news on the other line, her face completely fell. Her smile faded slowly into pursed lips with a furrowed brow, and finally her jaw simply dropped. I knew something was definitely not right.
After what seemed like an hour she hung up the phone, and it seemed as if she was unsure of how to proceed. “Class,” she began, in a tone of voice I had never heard, “a plane just hit the World Trade Center.” We were all in shock, looking around at each other for answers we didn’t have. The first words out of my mouth were, “was it an accident?” At that time, in my mind, there was no other possible explanation.
Immediately following Mrs. Mariano’s announcement, we heard our principal, Dr. Ted Stanik, over the loud speaker. “Attention students, there has been an incident in New York City and there is going to be a lot of traffic, so if your parents work in the city you may come to the office and arrange for other rides home.” Little did I know, that that would be the single biggest understatement I had ever heard.
The next period was Wood Tech, and as I walked down the stairs and towards the main corridor, there was an air in the halls that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Everyone was drifting through the school with dazed looks on their faces, unable to understand what was happening. We were just kids, after all.
On my way to the woodshop I had to pass the main office, and through the glass wall I saw what seemed like hundreds of students in line to use the phones, and several more about to head in. Being so close to New York, the vast majority of the parents of my classmates worked in the city.
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