PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - Many South Florida students were very young - perhaps not even born - in September 2001.
In most history textbooks today, there are just a couple of pages dedicated to the Sept. 11 attacks, meaning 9/11 can be a tough lesson for students and teachers alike.
Teaching about this particular moment in our nation's history can ravage a teacher's heart. Palm Beach Central High School's Stu Greydanus had taken photographs of Ground Zero and he showed them to his class on one of the first 9/11 anniversaries a few years ago.
The class included a student named Alicia, who asked to take one of Greydanus' photos with her.
"I said 'why do you like that picture?' And she said 'my dad died there that day.' My heart was ripped out," Greydanus said. "Still to this day, I get clutched by it. She said 'it's ok Mr. Greydanus'. She's hugging me. She said, 'I'm over it now' I said, 'I'm not'. I said 'you can have all my pictures'. I will never forget Alicia and those people who made the sacrifice."
Joseph Cominio teaches seventh grade Civics at H.L. Watkins Middle School in Palm Beach Gardens.
"They have no experience of Sept. 11. They have to be taught Sept. 11," he said.
His students were just two or three years old a decade ago. When teaching such heavy subject matter, it is possible for an instructor like Cominio to become emotional.
"They understand 'wow, look how it is affecting him. I want to understand why,'" said Cominio.
Ryan Wells was a college student 10 years ago. Now he teaches teenagers at Forest Hill Community High School.
This week, his lesson plans included a hard look September 2001.
"When you allow real feelings through the doors of the classrooms, it engages the students much more," said Wells.
A difficult subject to talk about, said Cominio, for the same reasons it should be discussed.
"I want to make sure that they know what the world was like on September 10, 2001 -- and how the world has changed," he said.
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