At the time, I was a junior in high school in New Jersey. I was in SAT English class, everyone silently completing a worksheet, when the principal came over the PA system, announcing the World Trade Center had just been bombed. Without a word, we all turned around in our desks, as for some reason the TV was located in the back of the room, and turned it on. What little coherent thought I had as I numbly stared at the screen was how grateful I was to be in the west building of my 2-building high school where every classroom had a TV and a cable connection. The east building had no cable at all. Students over there had to depend on radios and the Internet for news.
The second plane hit just before the bell rang. Still no one spoke, but we all obeyed the fact that we had to switch classes and ran out the door, sprinting toward our next class so we wouldn’t miss a thing. I have never seen students so frenzied to get to class before or after. Fortunately, my next class was also in the west building. Unfortunately, my school was experimenting with block scheduling at the time, meaning I was to be in class for 80 minutes straight, so I was able to watch the two towers fall live and learn about the Pentagon attack and Flight 93’s crash in Pennsylvania as they happened.
This was made worse by my teacher, who was known as “The Psycho” because she was hard to get along with. I had been warned by an angry upperclassman the year before to pray I never get her. After 5 days of school, I had yet to see any bad behaviors that would encourage such a nickname. I certainly did that day. While my classmates and I remained silent while watching the news, the teacher became very emotional, constantly reminding us that her beloved brother (stationed in California that day) was career-army and was to be on leave from September 16th to December 26th, but he wasn’t getting leave now, was he? In her defense, as she angrily informed us the next day, he was denied leave in order to help the country, but at the time, I was very angry at her for focusing on it. He was safe, worry about those who aren’t, please. I desperately wanted out of that classroom. I wanted the silence of my SAT English class. The teacher was making things so much worse. As the days passed, I saw the typical behavior that earned her her nickname, but she left a terrible mark on me that day and I was scared of her ever since.
The rest of the day was like that: run to the next classroom, turn on the TV, don’t say a word. Even when the principal turned off cable at 12:30, ordering us to resume a normal school day so the terrorists didn’t win, no one taught anything. We were too numb, too horrified, and just sat in our seats listening to the radio until the final bell rang and we all went home.