the Superintendent’s Seat
an Unforgettable Day
By Dr. Carole G. Hankin with Randi T. Sachs
“Where were you?” For many parents of schoolchildren today, that
question was usually followed by “when President Kennedy was shot.”
Thirty-nine years ago, the baby-boom generation was in school,
and depending upon which time zone you lived in, the news may
have first reached you when you were sitting in the classroom.
Although anyone old enough to remember November 22, 1963 will
always know the answer to that question, we will also be able
to answer the question, “Where were you on September 11, 2001,
when the World Trade Center was hit?” And so will our
Our children were in school. It was a beautiful, sunny day and
school was still brand new for the year. The news filtered in,
slowly at first and ultimately in a non-stop barrage. In Syosset,
our thoughts immediately turned to our students. Would some children’s
parents be unable to get home? As Superintendent, I quickly made
plans to stay overnight at school if necessary, and a number of
my colleagues volunteered to stay as well. We decided that our
number one priority would be to ensure that no child in elementary
school or middle school be sent home unless we were certain that
a responsible adult would be there for him or her. PTA volunteers
helped form a telephone chain. What seemed like an overwhelming
task, contacting the parents of close to 3,000 children, was accomplished
with dedicated teamwork. The day was a horrific disaster for our
country, but we were comforted with the knowledge that we were
able to ensure the safety of the
children entrusted to our care during the
In each of our schools, students, parents, faculty, and administration
worked together in the days, weeks, and months following September
11, 2001, to help in some way with rescue efforts and with contributions
to help those who had suffered losses in the attack on the World
Trade Center. Eventually, as the school year progressed, we settled
back into a sense of normalcy, although we were forever changed.
As the anniversary of September 11 approaches, we plan on the
best way to commemorate the day and to give our students the feeling
of security they deserve to have at school.
We will hold assemblies. It is important for us all to be together
at school, as together we feel safe and strong. We will sing songs
and read poetry and essays in praise of the many brave men and
women who helped those affected by the attack. We will display
artwork inspired by both tragedy and heroism. We will memorialize
those individuals who lost their lives so suddenly.
We will give our students the opportunity to express their feelings—both
on that day and now, one year later. We will again make our counseling
staff available to our students and encourage anyone who wants
to seek comfort in their guidance.
We were in school on September 11, 2001, and it is most appropriate
that we are again in school on September 11, 2002, proving for
all the world to see that we will not allow our freedoms and our
way of life to be taken from us by anyone.
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