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New class at Summer Enrichment Program teaches students about Sept. 11, 2001

Mike Chrvala teaches a summer enrichment program at Friendship Valley Elementary.
Mike Chrvala teaches a summer enrichment program at Friendship Valley Elementary. (KEN KOONS/STAFF PHOTO , Carroll County Times)

While Sept. 11, 2001, was a tragic day when many people lost their lives, one Carroll teacher is working to educate children that a lot of good also came from the tragedy.

Shiloh Middle School teacher Mike Chrvala taught The Day Our World Changed - September 11, 2001, to a class of students at Friendship Valley during the first session of the Carroll County Summer Enrichment Program from June 24 to July 5.

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Since the students in the class were not born or were babies during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, many know very little about that day.

The students all brainstormed about what they can do at their schools to get others to learn about Sept. 11.

"It was a terrible day, but so much good has come out of it," Chrvala said.

This year is the first time Chrvala has taught such a class, he said. He said his goal is for the students to go back to their middle schools and talk about the aspects of Sept. 11 they feel are important.

Some ideas the students came up with included having moments of silence on Sept. 11 each year, showing videos about the day, wearing patriotic clothes or going on a field trip to New York City.

Dick Thompson, coordinator of the Carroll County Summer Enrichment Program, said the program used to have a class about the Holocaust, but after the class's teacher retired, they brainstormed what topic should replace the class and thought of Chrvala and his interest in teaching about the terrorist attacks.

Each elementary and middle school in the county was able to send two students who have shown interest in the topic. Even though most of the program's classes cost about $95 each, this class was offered free of charge.

"I just feel like kids need to know about this," Thompson said. "I can't think of another event in the last 20 to 25 years that's impacted our society as much as this has."

Chrvala said almost 12 years after the attacks, there is still no requirement in any state for teachers to educate their students about Sept. 11, 2001. Such lessons are increasingly important because students were so young when it happened.

"They were born the year it happened," he said of his class. "We're talking about a generation that has no working knowledge of Sept. 11, 2001."

The class took field trips, including a visit to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in Emmitsburg. The site has a large memorial solely for the firefighters who died during the terrorist attacks.

The students talked about different firefighters who died on that day and found their bricks at the memorial, he said.

One student, Payton Steele, had her stepfather come in and share his experiences of that day. He was working in the North Tower on Sept. 11, 2001, but made it out safely.

Payton, an outgoing fifth-grader at Spring Garden Elementary School, said her stepfather shared the story of how he and his friends got out of the building in time.

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"They watched the ground shake and said we better get out of here," she said.

The terrorist attacks made everyone look at things in a different way, Payton said. She thinks it's important to have a full understanding of the event and learn about all points of view.

"Instead of seeing the bad in the event, they should see the good in it," she said. "I think this should be taught in schools because it's a big part of history."

Delaney Tofil, a rising sixth-grader at Sykesville Middle, said she enjoyed taking the class and learning about all the heroes who helped save lives on Sept. 11, 2001.

"I like learning about what Osama bin Laden wanted to do and why," she said.

Caden Foley, a rising sixth-grader at Shiloh Middle School, said she thinks it would be interesting to know what it would be like if the terrorist attacks never happened.

"We wouldn't be as secure as we are now," she said. "It helps us prepare for future events."

Griffin Sober, a rising sixth-grader at Shiloh Middle, said his parents were amazed at all the things he learned in the class. The class taught a lot about the planning that went into carrying out the attacks.

"I tell them the things I learned and they say they didn't even know those things," he said.

Griffin said a lot of teachers feel uncomfortable talking about Sept. 11, 2001.

"I'd like to persuade our teachers to teach us more about it," he said. "It's before we were born so we didn't experience it."

David Bosworth, a rising seventh-grader at West Middle, said it was the first time a plane had been used as a weapon.

"The whole world changed because of it," he said.

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