The day started out like most school days. I got up early and had a good breakfast, and did my fifteen mile commute to Centennial Middle School where I taught eighth grade integrated science. But this was not a normal school day, for the students were not at school. Provo School District had a writing test that was given near the start of school, and all of the teachers were headed for the media center rather than our classrooms to assess the writing tests.
Centennial Middle School, Provo UT - built 1996, the centennial year of Utah Statehood and the only middle school completed in Utah that year.
As the teachers gathered one of my colleagues (Laurel Lyman) came to the table where I was seated, and she asked if I had seen TV before I left home. I had come to school early, as usual -- before 7:00 a.m.-- to prepare some classroom things that needed to be readied. I told her that I had not.
She said that as she was leaving home to come to school, there was a new bulletin that fllashed acrorss the television screen as "Breaking News", and something was said about one of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center in New York City being hit by a small plane. The early reports indicated that it appeared to be a small engine plane that was outside of its flight pattern and accidentally crashed into one of the towers.
We discussed it for a moment, and then someone else made a remark that something was going on with the World Trade Center Twin Towers. Since there was television in the media center, it was turned on and -- to our horror-- we saw smoke billowing out of one of the towers and news coverage started to indicate that this was an attack on the United States!
Soon we also were aware that this was much more than Hollywood drama being played out on the TV screen. Periodically, we would receive an update from someone on the faculty as we were involved at the business at hand--assessing the district writing tests for each of our students to determine their level of persuasive writing.
By the time we finished correcting papers, the news was all over the networks reporting how the Pentagon had been hit, and it appeared that other planes were headed for the White House and other government buildings. The horror of the number of people trapped in the towers, some jumping from high places to try to escape the flaming inferno and others trying to rescue those they could was being played out before our eyes.
It was an extremely somber occasion, as we came to realize that we had been attacked on our own home soil! This event not only affected our national security, but each of us seemed to feel that our very privacy was being compromised. We could hardly wait to get home and turn on the TV to see the replays and updates being reported by the news media.
Another view of the entrance of Centennial Middle School, Provo, UT.
My communte home that day as every day took me past Skyharbor Airport in Phoenix. There were always planes in a pattern waiting to land, but that day the skies were empty and stayed that way for days.
It's amazing the many ways we each were shocked by the news. Many had to watch replays and others watched it unfold live.
It was really hard to believe that it was actually happening to us even though we could see it happen right before our eyes! Nice touch bringing in photos of where you were working at the time.