Bin Laden death sparks schoolkids' fears
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The capture and death of Osama bin Laden translated into a fresh fear of retaliation yesterday for many Amityville High School juniors who were barely first-graders at the time of the 9/11 attacks.
"I don't think I would have anticipated them expressing so clearly that they were scared," said teacher Jonathan Klomp, who Tuesday gave his U.S. history class a lesson on bin Laden's killing and the actions taken by President Barack Obama. "It's a product of being 9/11 kids."
Teachers in schools throughout Long Island altered lesson plans this week to talk to students about Obama's actions and bin Laden's death. Students in Klomp's class at Amityville High had been learning about the early 1900s, but bin Laden's death Sunday meant an exception was made Tuesday morning.
"This is a time we have to stop and teach the significance of exploring as the world goes by," said Klomp, who is also the Amityville district's director of social studies. He polled the students on whether the world would be a safer place without bin Laden and found that many responded that it would not.
The 9/11 attack "was part of their reality," he said. "I think it shaped their view of the world."
One student, Marshae Sterling, turned 7 years old on 9/11. She recalled her mother picking her up early from school that day and seeing the images on television of the Twin Towers falling.
Now, she said, she felt fearful. "I'm scared to fly, scared to do anything," she said. "They are going to seek revenge."
Student Kevin Jackman, 17, said "everybody's talking about it. A lot of people believe they will retaliate."
Teachers in the Jericho middle and high schools also discussed the raid this week, some using newspaper clippings and others just letting students talk about what they saw on television.
Anne McDonough and Michelle Vevante, seventh-grade social studies co-teachers at Jericho Middle School, said that many students came into class confused between facts and rumors. The teachers said they "spent time addressing the students' concerns for their personal safety and fear of retaliation."
In the Half Hollow Hills school district, teachers at the high school and middle school also discussed the news. Students in Diane Arabian's ninth-grade global history class at High School West, watched Obama's speech announcing bin Laden's killing.