Where Were You When…? (Summer 2013)

By Kate Dunigan-AtLee

The opening lines of “By Candlelight,” a play by Claudia Haas, produced by STAGE Left at Sturgis West in April, inspire our latest Cultural Soundings column: “Events – they cast you back in time – to loved ones – to places – to feelings.’Where were you when the lights went out? Where were you when you heard of President Kennedy’s assassination?'”

We asked students and faculty to describe where they were and how they felt when they first heard the news of a pivotal historical event that has remained (and will remain) with them for life.

Sept 11 2001 for Soundings (attribute to Dov Harrington 2009)

Photo credit: Dov Harrington

Jenny Agel, Class of 2013 – East

September 11, 2001

I remember very little of the day the United States experienced it’s first real terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. I was in school like any other first grader, and that day was very much like all the others. But I will always remember the moment I learned that this particular day had not been so normal. I couldn’t have been more than seven years old. I remember it was sunny and warm, almost hot, that sort of early September day where it still seems like summer. And I remember thinking it strange that my mom hadn’t met us at the bus stop like she normally did. But I didn’t think about it for long because my sister’s friend was with us, and I remember I was excited because sometimes when Kate had friends over she’d let me hang out with them. But when we went into the living room, all I remember is finding my mom sitting on the ottoman watching the TV, leaning forward intently, not turning around as though she hadn’t even heard us come in. She was crying. I had never seen my parents cry. Up until then I though grownups never cried. Then she saw us and came over and grabbed my sister and I so tight, I knew something was wrong. That was when I saw the TV, and saw the towers, fire and smoke pouring out.

World Cup 2006 for Soundings (attribute to Marvin (PA) 2006)

Photo credit: Marvin (PA)

Kevin Agostinelli, Class of 2015 – East

World Cup 2006

On July 9, 2006, I was in Sorento, Italy, during the World Cup final between Italy and France. My family, cousins, and I were crowding around the tv of a bar with dozens of zealous Italians, gazing intensely at the screen and trying to will our beloved “”Azzurri”” to victory. Until that game, I was only a moderate soccer fan, but during the match, I became enchanted by the players’ skills with the soccer ball, and I felt a rush of adrenalin every time an Italian player raced up the field, hoping that that chance might be the one that would lead the Italians to victory.

The regular time for the game ended in a 1-1 affair, so the match would end with an all-or-nothing penalty kick shootout to determine the greatest soccer team in the world. At that point, we were all a bunch of nervous wrecks, as our emotions rose and fell during the epic penalty kick sequence. We exploded in glee after Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon stopped one of the penalty kicks, and we now knew that Italy had the advantage. After two more successful penalty kicks, Italy’s Fabio Grosso stepped up to take the kick that would possibly claim the victory. Just like that, Grosso scored, and our feelings, as well as the feelings of all Italians, can only be described as pure ecstasy. Immediately fireworks shot up across the sky, from every nearby town, so much so that Mt. Vesuvius looked like it was erupting! Italy had won the World Cup!

Although the 2006 World Cup is just a memory, the words “Campione del Mundo (Champions of the World)” are still ringing in my ears. Ever since then, I have been a passionate follower of the game of soccer, and moments like that World Cup final are why I will forever love the “beautiful game.”

Travis Andrade Soundings Summer 2013

Photo credit: Travis Andrade

Travis Andrade, Latin – West

Red Sox Win the World Series, 2004

Where was I when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004?  An interesting question; to understand where I was in 2004, you have to understand where I was September 11, 2001.  I had just started teaching at Concord High School in Concord New Hampshire.  I served in many roles there, one of which was as an English as a Second Language aid.  I was sitting in the ESL room, when a colleague walked into the room and said, “a plane just hit the world trade center.”  I replied, “what like a Cesna?”  She in turn replied, “no like a 747.”  I looked at her and said, “I am going to Iraq.”  Fast forward to fall of 2004 and I was a Sergeant in a small transportation detachment deployed to the Sunni triangle of Iraq.  Sure, I should have been in the second month of my second year as a Latin Teacher at an up and coming Charter school in Hyannis but I had to put that on hold when the deployment orders came in the Fall of 2003.  For the past 12 months I endured a winter at Fort Drum in New York and a seemingly easy deployment to a defeated country that exploded into the most violent insurgency war the U.S. had fought in 100 years.  By October, with nearly constant mortar and rocket attacks, our little post was referred to as ‘Motarritaville’.  Except for a two week break in September, I hadn’t seen my family in nearly a year.  I was bored, numb to the constant threat of death, and looking forward to the slim possibility that the Red Sox may take the series.   I watched with building excitement as the Sox swept the Angels in the 5 game ALDS.  Then came the Yanks and three quick losses.  By the end of game three, an 18-9 beat down, I was thinking, “great, here I am, far from home, getting shot at every day, and now I have to endure a 4 game sweep by the dreaded Yanks.”  I had to break up the boredom somehow, so I watched game 4.  By the 9th inning, I was as numb to the fact that the Sox were going to lose as I was that my life might be ended at any moment.  But then something magical happened.  Kevin Millar walked, was pinch run for by Dave Roberts who stole second on the second pitch to Bill Mueller.  Bill Mueller then did something that I never thought that I would see, he got a base hit off of Mariano Rivera that tied the game.   The rest is history really, David Ortiz homers in extra innings…does it again in Game 5, Schillings bloody sock in game 6 and Johnny Damon’s grand slam in game 7 and we are off to the World Series.  By that point, the World Series was a formality and it was.  When Doug Mientkeiwicz caught the ball from Keith Foulke to end game 4, I radioed all of our detachment’s soldiers who were out manning their posts that the curse was over and for one shining moment in the longest year of all of our lives, where we were and what we were facing didn’t matter.   The Sox were World Series Champions…at 0640 HRS 28 October 2004 (Iraq time)…

 Anna Botsford, Theatre – West

Red Sox Win the World Series, 2004

Red Sox flag for Soundings (attribute to Timothy Valentine 2011)

Photo credit: Timothy Valentine

In October, 2004 I was a junior at Regis College in Weston, MA, just 12 miles from the center of Boston.   At the time Regis was an all-women’s college but that night the entire campus (each lawn and every parking lot) was filled with the women, their boyfriends, family members, professors (nuns included) and members of the Regis Community.  We were set up with picnics and car stereos were blasting the game.  It was such a warm and beautiful night; we wanted to experience it outside!  Others were in their dorms watching on TV with their windows open.  When they defeated St. Louis 3-0, the campus erupted in wild screams of joy and relief.  It was a magical October evening for die-hard Boston fans.

MLK for Soundings (attribute Mark Alves 2011)

Photo credit: Mark Alves

Jim Buckheit, ToK – East

The Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Early on the evening of April 4, 1968 I showed up for work at the Urban Progress Center at Pilgrim Baptist Church on Chicago’s South Side.  I tutored math there two nights per week in an Upward Bound program. My students, all African American, lived in the high rise projects just a few blocks away.  Shortly after I arrived, I was explaining graph slopes to a ninth grade girl, when I heard a commotion on the stairs. Several of our senior boys came bursting into the room, looking distraught, and one of them yelled, “They’ve killed Dr. King!”

The head of the center, a social worker and jazz musician named Willie Woods, got news on the radio, and for the next hour or so we gathered what facts we could, mainly from other kids who arrived, and commiserated tearfully with one another. Several of the older boys grew increasingly loud and upset.

It went suddenly quiet, and one of them said, “Oh sh__, Buck’s here.” (Buck was the nickname they had given when I started the previous fall, the irony lost on no one.) It took a few seconds for the significance of the comment to register. Then Willie said, “We’ve got to get you out of here.”

Several months earlier, I had bought a dilapidated Chevy station wagon from an uncle in order to do the job without using public transportation, which wasn’t safe at night. I gave one of the students my keys, and he drove the car around to the back door of the building. Three others ushered me out quickly. I lay on the floor of the back seat covered by their jackets. Two sat in front and two in back, trying to position their feet around me without looking unnatural.

The trip back to the university neighborhood where I lived was slow, and I could hear that many disturbances had already broken out on the streets.  They parked the car on my block, and we all got out. We stood around awkwardly for several minutes, and I asked, “How are you guys going to get home.”

“We’ll be all right,” one said. “Yeah, but this is gonna be bad,” said another.

“You probably saved my life,” I said. “I really appreciate it.”

“It ain’t nothin’,” said another, and they walked off down the street, making their way back to an area of the city that would be occupied by National Guard and federal troops for the next several days.

Boston Marathon for Soundings (attribute Jeff Cutler 2013)

Photo credit: Jeff Cutler

Katie Curran, Class of 2016 – East

Boston Marathon Bombing, April 15, 2013

I was born in Boston. I grew up with Boston. Boston is my home. I could have never imagined what had happened to my home of Boston in one week.

It was April 15, 2013 on a bright sunny morning in Boston.  It was the 118th Boston Marathon, where runners from all across the world come together for a friendly competition.  It was planned to be the perfect day with perfect weather and a perfect day of events. But then everything changed at 2:49 pm.

I remember where I was at that exact second, in our car on our way to Boston, the perfect way to spend our April Vacation. The Boston Marathon had been bombed. Two bombs were set off, killing 3 and injuring 282 innocent victims (according to more recent reports by the Boston Health Commission). At that second, no one knew it was a bomb.  Reports first said it had been a gas explosion, but everyone quickly found out the real news.  No one knew at the time what the next week would consist of in Boston. A whole story would unfold.

Everyone was frantic and upset, and no one knew what was going to happen next.  An unrelated fire broke out at the J.F.K museum. The news began to blow up.  Boylston Street was shut down for an ongoing investigation. The FBI and state police went on a search for the Boston bombers.

I was staying at a hotel in Cambridge when things began to unravel. A Multi-Faith service was held in South Boston for the public and victims. President Barack Obama, along with a variety of other political and religious leaders, spoke to give their condolences to all those affected by the bombings. Luckily, I was able to head home to the Cape before the city went into lock down. On April 18, the FBI released a video of the two bombers. Overnight, a treacherous series of events occurred, resulting in the loss of life of M.I.T. Officer Sean Collier. I woke up to the news stating that the first bomber had been killed and that the second bomber was on the run.

I felt as though I was watching something that was out of a movie on tv.  My eyes were glued to the television as the news covered the intense situation all day.  I had never seen anything like it and probably never will again in my life. After the hard work of dedicated officers, Boston’s mind was eased. The second bomber was caught.

My April vacation consisted of complete utter shock and disbelief.  However, I noticed that there was one thing that always remained in the hearts of the Bostonians: unity. We are Boston Strong. The community of Boston cannot thank the wonderful first responders and officers enough, who quickly jumped into action to save the lives of so many. Their selfless acts will never be forgotten. They ran towards the explosions not knowing what to expect. They ran into an empty city, not knowing what would turn up at each corner. They risked their lives.

The injured and killed were helpless and innocent, with lives full of so much potential. Three spectators were killed: Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, and Martin Richard.  They will never be forgotten.

Many Americans have reached out to help Boston.  Boston has proven to be extremely resilient and strong. The One Fund Boston has been set up to reach out to those affected and has already raised over $25 million in donations. Everyone in our community has made a difference. We are Boston Strong.

Originally published in Sturgis StormWatch: 30 Apr 2013 http://sturgisstormwatch.blogspot.com/2013/04/my-home-boston-strong.html

911Matt Fetzer, History – East

September 11, 2001

I have to say that 9-11 is the most vivid for me. It was a day off from the Planatation for me and I had the news on.  There was some story they were following about an accidental crash at the World Trade Center and then zip, a flash at Tower Two and …my God…the journalists gasped and stated that we were under attack …then we watched the towers smolder.  I’ll never forget the madness of that morning and day whose outcome was uncertain. I think I am most haunted by the interview with the fireman who told us he had to race into the towering inferno because his guys were in there …and then he races in there ..and then the tower falls and you know that he must be dead.  We all speculated how many were dead by estimating how many worked there on a given day. Then the images of people jumping started to show up…At about 10:30 it was clear there had also been an attack at the Pentagon and Flight #93 could not be accounted for …

What still haunts me is the image of families looking for their loved ones at the Wall of the Missing, a wall of beautiful people whose smiling faces were lost forever that day. A weeping, desperate face before the cameras, “Have you seen my son?” …My heart ached and still does. These were followed by images of Osama Bin Laden smirking from his cave in malevolent triumph at our misery.

Since then, I feel that a certain innocence was lost that day. We were confronted with the face of evil and we changed as a nation. The Age of 9/11 had begun with its endless years of death and destruction in dusty foreign lands and all of the dark arts that we used to fight them.  Torture and Dick Cheney and Abu Gharib and Donald Rumsfled and IED’s and rivers of blood in Baghdad and Fallujah all run together in a blur.  Through it all I always had the thought that Bin Laden was still out there laughing as we swung in the dark. Now it is Predator Drones and an architecture of fighting terror that even Obama embraces. What is sad is I do not think that the Age of 9-11 will ever end.

911 -2

Nathan Furrey, Special Ed – West

September 11, 2001

When the terrorist attacks of 9/11 actually occurred, I was in my sophomore English class at Sandwich High School. It was later that morning in Spanish class when we saw the towers fall on the news. I will never forget those images and just how surreal it all seemed. You didn’t hear all the sirens and of people yelling and screaming, instead all you saw was a distant view of the towers before they disappeared, and all you heard was the confusion, restrained panic, and speechlessness of the news anchors trying to make sense of it all.

Photo credit: Timothy Valentine

Photo credit: Timothy Valentine

Nick Goetz, Class of 2015 – East

Red Sox win the World Series, 2004

On October 27, 2004 the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. This was a big night for all of New England since the team hadn’t won a World Series in 86 years. When they won I was at my house with my dad. Right before the last out was thrown my dad came up and woke me up. He said I needed to see this, that this would be history. The moments after they won were amazing; people cheering, the whole city went crazy. For me, I just went back to bed as if it were any other night. But the next days were amazing, those were the days when I realized the significance of them winning. Especially going to the parade, the largest in the city’s history.

Photo credit: Library of Congress

Photo credit: Library of Congress

Diane Klaiber, Librarian – East

President Kennedy’s Assassination

I was 13 years old attending Charles City Junior High School when the announcement came on our PA system that President Kennedy had been shot and killed in Dallas. I remember I was in the physical education class and it was the one time when the teacher did not require us to take a shower but remain silent.  The silence in the hallways was eerie.   My family and most families could not take their attention away from the television for the entire host of events which seemed like weeks.   We were mesmerized by this horrific event–one that had not occurred for many years and one that no one thought could ever occur again.  Even today, we realize any of us can be the victims of evil and violence.

911Ketryn Kochka, Class of 2013 – East

September 11, 2001

I was eating dinner when I found out about 9/11. I was living in Saudi Arabia at the time and we were finishing up eating and getting ready for bed when my parents saw what happened on the computer. I didn’t really know what was going on at the time, but I knew that it was something bad. I didn’t really understand for awhile why it happened or what happened. The next day at school everyone was talking about it, most of the older students understood more of what happened and everyone was upset. We had a big ceremony in the gym to talk about it and a lot of students got up to talk. We all cried and we all shared how we felt and it was really emotional. I stayed with one of my teachers the whole time because I was really confused and I didn’t know what to do. After the ceremony was over, we all walked outside and let balloons go, we each released a balloon in memory of the lives lost. It was all really scary at first, but we felt a lot safer in Saudi Arabia than we would have felt if we were in the United States at the time. We felt as though after it happened a lot of people stereotyped the people of Saudi Arabia as terrorists, and we understood that they weren’t. We knew everyone was upset with what happened in New York, but we realized they just blamed all of Saudi Arabia instead of just the people who were involved. I didn’t really know what to do at the time, but I felt as though everyone was just really scared.

Photo credit: Dov Harrington

Photo credit: Dov Harrington

Christine McDowell, ToK – West

September 11, 2001

I had woken up late on the morning of 9/11 and went straight to my business class.  I was a sophomore in college.  After class I grabbed breakfast and saw a bunch of people looking up at this tiny TV in the cafeteria.  (We hadn’t known it had happened during class because we didn’t have smartphones and hadn’t used computers that class.)  I went back to my dorm room to find my roommate in tears because her dad was a postman in NYC and delivered mail to the World Trade Center daily.  She was trying to get in touch with her family but couldn’t.  We later found out that her dad had delivered mail to the WTC that morning before the first plane had hit.

I also remember talking to my friend from Ohio later that night.  When we started talking about the events of that day she said, “That’s not really going to affect us here in Ohio.”  I remember thinking that she had no idea how much this event was going to affect not only the people in NYC but people all over the world!

Photo credit: Miss Nexus

Photo credit: Miss Nexus

Curran Olson, Class of 2013 – East

Barack Obama Elected President, 2008

A pivotal historical event that has remained and I believe will remain with me for a lifetime was when Barack Obama was elected President in 2008. Although I had lived through 3 elections at this point respectively at  1, 5, and 9 years old, this was the first year I really knew what was going on. I was 13 years old and my Eighth grade Social Studies class was reaping the benefits of all the opportunities to learn about the electoral college, checks and balances and how an election works. I remember distinctly it was the first year my brother could vote, turning eighteen 2 days before the election and I was very jealous. I sat myself in front of the tv with my whole family that night and watched history being made as our first African American president was elected and was elated at how far our country had come. I also felt some personal pride at having understood and taken part in something so “adult” in my 13 year old eyes as paying attention to politics. When this year’s election came along I took those same ideas learned in my eighth grade classroom plus 4 more years of history knowledge and became an even more informed citizen. Jealousy took a new form though as I watched not just my older brother and sister but several classmates take part in voting, something my 17 year old self had to miss out on this time. Watching Obama get reelected brought me back to that memory and accomplishment I had felt as a 13 year old and I reflected on how truly important that memory and night was to me in instilling a love of history and politics.

Photo credit: Miss Nexus

Photo credit: Miss Nexus

Mary Pawlusiak, Class of 2013 – East

Barack Obama Elected President, 2008

I vividly remember when Obama was elected.  McCain and Obama were running for president and the campaign was neck and neck. This was to determine who would become president and I was pushing for Obama along with my family. I remember I was at my grandparents house on the couch with my lucky hat on, as well as my lucky fuzzy socks. My grandparents were glues to the television counting the red and blue states on the map to see who was ahead. I was nervous and excited, but it was heading towards 11:00 PM and I needed to go to sleep. . . so I told my grandparents to wake me up no matter who won the campaign. I quickly fell asleep and then soon woke up to cheering and screaming. My grandparents rushed upstairs and told me that Obama has won. I quickly was hearing Obamas muffled voice from the downstairs television thanking everyone on his campaign journey. I was half asleep therefore I didn’t register what had happened and quickly fell back asleep. As I woke in the morning I ran outside to get the paper and the headlines explained it all. Obama had won the campaign and a smile emerged on my face.

911 -2Joann Johnson Prygocki, Registrar – East

September 11, 2001

We were “New Yorkers” at the time of the September 11th tragedy so this day still holds a deep wound in my heart.  I’ll never forget what a beautiful day it was too; the sun was shining and it was almost perfect.  This remains particularly strong in my mind because my husband was working in mid-town Manhattan at the time and had taken the day off to play golf.  We have a friend that was at work that day and ended up walking as far north as the Bronx just to meet up with his wife to get home!  My daughter, Sara was 5 and attending kindergarten (now a junior at Sturgis) and my two sons were 3 and 2 respectively.  I remember taking my boys food shopping that morning and when I started driving back home; I started to hear things on the radio.  It was very difficult at first to piece everything together.  I was listening to my music station and there was a lot of serious talk going on.  That alone was off.  Then it sounded as if they were implying that World Trade Center was gone (like gone) but how could that be?  I was hoping I was wrong and when reality ended up truly striking (like a lightning bolt), the fear that I felt was extremely overwhelming.  The fact that I used to work right across the street and often took the subway in and out of there….words can’t describe.  I went to call my husband and there was absolutely no cell service.  I was later to find out that the plane that flew into the World Trade Center also flew over our Church, located on the beautiful, majestic Hudson River and only several miles away from a major nuclear power plant that serves NYC.  I remember just needing my family home.  So I immediately went to pick up Sara from kindergarten.  She saw me and said “Aww, I wanted to take the bus home!”  All I could do was hug her because I knew her world would never be the same. Once home, it was quite eerie.  We knew that the airspace was shut down and yet, we often still heard planes flying overhead…fighter jets that is.

My husband, who works for Verizon, was pulled immediately into working for the task force that was tasked with getting Wall Street and, basically the financial industry, back on-line!  We barely saw him but I continue to feel so proud of him.  It was a monumental task, one that many people probably can’t appreciate, but it was done in record time and was very critical to our nation’s financial welfare.

Every September 11th, all of these memories and emotions hit me.  I’ll never forget the images on TV., I’ll never forget the fear I felt for my family and I’ll never forget how sad I was to know that such hatred exists in this world.

Photo credit: Jeff Cutler

Photo credit: Jeff Cutler

Grayce Rogers, Class of 2015 – East

Boston Marathon Bombing, April 15, 2013

A pivotal moment within my life was the Boston Marathon bombing. I remember I was in the car with my mother when I received a rather frightening text from my friend saying “Are you seeing the explosions?”. I replied to her right away asking what was happening and if she was alright. She informed me that she was watching the Boston Marathon live when she witnessed two bombs explode. She continued texting me updates about what was happening and telling me about the injured people. My mother turned the radio station to a news channel so we could listen to.
When I heard the news, I was in shock. I didn’t want to believe that something so tragic had happened a close 50 miles away from me, so close to home.

This event is personally a pivotal moment in my life because the event reminded me that everyone doesn’t think something as tragic as the bombing will happen to you. Since the event was close to home, it hit me. It hit hard. I now realize that I live in a world where I am surrounded with violent acts.  However, I have realized that peace and goodness starts with me. I have seen cities from not only all over the United States but also from around the world support Boston. I might live in a world surrounded by violent acts, but I also live in a world where goodness prevails when least expected. It starts with us.

Photo credit: Timothy Valentine

Photo credit: Timothy Valentine

Abbie Titcomb, Class of 2013 – East

Red Sox Win the World Series, 2004

Sometimes it’s not a tragedy or a life threatening occurrence that persists in your memory. The moment the Red Sox won the World Series my father, sister, and I set off a small series of fire crackers. As a bit of an underdog family a victory for the Red Sox gave us something tangible to root for. At the time it was the greatest moment, not because I love baseball with a particular passion but because it represented a philosophy I carry with me to this day. Goals can be met with hard work, determination, support from those you love, and a little bit of luck.

Beth Wahle – West

September 11, 2001

911On September 11, 2001, it began like any ordinary beautiful fall day as I went out to put my kids on the bus in our quiet, peaceful upstate New York neighborhood in Penfield. My 4th child who was 2, returned with me at my side as I waddled up the stairs to my house, 9 months pregnant with our fifth. Shortly after, I received a call from my neighbor with whom I had just chatted at the bus stop. She said, “You have to turn the TV on….they’re flying planes into the World Trade Centers…it’s disgusting”. I turned it on just in time to see the first tower smoking from the crash, followed by the 2nd plane slamming into the other tower, all on live TV, and heard Peter Jennings’ rather calm, phlegmatic commentaries on the events as they unfolded.  I sat back on my bed paralyzed with shock and fear as the first tower collapsed, followed by the 2nd, and could not understand why Peter Jennings was not crying?  He was barely even speaking, and when he did his voice remained calm. I knew thousands had just perished. I felt like the air just got sucked out of the room…I couldn’t breath. I thought of my kids I had just put on the bus and wished they were near me so I could hold them and never let them go. I looked down at the little one next to me holding her teddy bear, hugged her, then wrapped my arms around my stomach, feeling helpless and actually sorry that I was bringing another child into this world whom I knew I would love like all my others, but it would not be enough…I would never be able to fully protect any of them.  And unlike Peter Jennings, I did cry…for hours, days…weeks.

Photo credit: Roberto Verzo

Photo credit: Roberto Verzo

Kelley Walsh, Class of 2013 – East

2004 Tsunami in Thailand

The event that I remember really well from before was the tsunami in Thailand that happened when I was in 4th grade. We had gone on a trip to Thailand and returned only 1 week before the tsunami hit. On the news I saw the hotel that we had stayed at in Phuket and it was completely destroyed. I was really sad and don’t know how to describe it. I was pretty young to but in my mind when I picture Thailand I still picture it the way it was before.

Photo credit: Dov Harrington

Photo credit: Dov Harrington

Alicia Watts, English East

September 11, 2001

I was a junior at Sturgis on September 11, 2001. A student who came late to school during advisory told us what had happened. There was an upperclassmen in my advisory who knew someone in Manhattan and I remember her using her cell phone to call her family. Honestly, I didn’t think much of it though for the rest of the day. There were no smart phones, no TVs in the classrooms, and our teachers either didn’t know much or weren’t talking about it. It didn’t seem to be that big of a deal. When my dad picked me up from school that afternoon he was upset, and he was never upset. I asked him what was wrong and when he expressed how sad he was about something that had happened so far away from us, I knew it was a lot bigger than I thought. I spent that night, like the rest of America, glued to the TV, sad, horrified, and confused. “By Candlelight” really hit home for me because I was a kid during that time like many of the characters in the play, old enough to know the implications of what was going on but too young to feel powerful in any way. I also remember the day we went to war with Iraq. I was a senior at Sturgis in 2003. While it didn’t impact me in the same way as 9-11, I remember that day because my history teacher, Mr. Dateman, said he would cancel the lesson and talk about the war if we went to war. As an educator now, these moments in my adolescent remind me of how important it is to draw from what is current and real in our world, even if it means pausing for a moment and recognizing that what is happening may be completely unrelated to the subject at hand.

Marion Weeks, Community Outreach

November 22, 1963

jfk familyI remember the day Mr. MacArthur, Morehead Elementary Principal, came to our 4th grade class and stood  for a moment in the doorway before saying, “I have some very sad news.” When he told us President Kennedy had been shot and killed, I felt like the world was turning upside down. We had been so caught up in the magic of Kennedy’s young family; how could the magic be ruined so suddenly? The days and weeks following were unsettling and became more so when my Dad died four months later. Fortunately, an extraordinary teacher, Beth McClees, made 4th grade so much fun that her classroom became our sanctuary.

Little did we know we were heading into a time of racial unrest that would be marked by the assassinations of Malcolm X (Feb. 21, 1965), Martin Luther King (April 4, 1968) and Bobby Kennedy (June 6, 1968) During high school, race riots were in full swing and sometimes it seemed we spent more time on the football field during bomb scares than in the classroom. Fortunately, Durham High had a young African American teacher named Jay Rogers who taught American History and understood the importance of a teachable moment. He became a driving force in bringing people together to find common ground. His work did not go unnoticed. Jay Rogers became the National Teacher of the Year in 1972 and was acclaimed “as an internal ambassador of goodwill who couldn’t have come along at a better time.”

Schools have grown accustomed to crisis plans and safety drills. Looking back on the crisis we faced in November 1963 and during the following years of racial unrest, I feel grateful for extraordinary teachers who provided sanctuary and helped us understand the implications of our times.

Photo credit: Channone Arif

Photo credit: Channone Arif

Marsha Yalden, English – East

The Challenger Explosion – January 28, 1986

I will never forget Tuesday, January 28, 1986 – The day the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded 73 seconds into its historic flight.  At the time I was a 21 year old college student enrolled at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH.  This day is burned into my memory for a couple reasons.  One, is that this is the first time that a national tramatic event was televised on live TV – Everyone was really excited about this historic event and was avidly watching the space shuttle launch on TV expecting to see a successful take off and instead had a front row seat to a disaster in which anyone watching knew there was no chance for survival for any of the seven crew members aboard. This was also a historic flight because the crew included two “civilian” – one was Crista McAuliffe a Concord, NH high school teacher who had beat out 11,000 other teachers in a competition to be chosen as the first teacher in space. I was watching the launch while sitting on the couch in my sorority house along with a large group of my sorority sisters, many of whom had grown up in New Hampshire, and some who had gone to high school in Concord, NH. Therefore, not only was this a national tragedy unfolding in front of our eyes on live TV, it was also a personal tragedy since a few of my friends knew Crista McAuliffe as a beloved teacher and had just seen the event that caused her death horribly play out right in front of their watchful eyes.  I will never forget the sobs and laments of my sorority sisters as we all held each other tight and cried while watching the Challenger explode again and again as the TV newscasters played the tape of the event over and over again for all the world to see…

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