Many schools across the Washington region marked this 11th anniversary of 9/11 simply with moments of silence. But in Poolesville, Md., some middle schoolers got a special history lesson from a student's stepfather.
"The building did not initially collapse," says Montgomery County Fire Captain Troy Lipp. "It initially remained standing."
Captain Lipp was the guest speaker in Ms. Nachlas' social studies class at John Poole Middle School Tuesday morning.
"Jet fuel from the plane was everywhere," he tells the students. "And it was thick. There were literally pools of it and everything was covered with it."
Captain Lipp was in charge of the Montgomery County Fire Department's Urban Search and Rescue Team that was sent to the Pentagon.
"And all of the survivors were actually out of the building by the time we got on site," he says.
The students watched a brief video about that September 11th - when the 6th graders were newborns and infants.
"Well, my mom has told me a lot about it and how she always reflects on it, on 9/11," says Roshawna Marshall. "And I've also watched a lot of videos."
"I think about horrible, tragedy, suffering - just all around chaos when it comes to what happens at the Pentagon and Twin Towers," added Marshall's classmate Bubby Jones. "I was watching football and a huge documentary came on about heroes of 9/11 and I was like, 'Oh, what's this?' And I went upstairs and asked my mom and she told me all about it."
Ms. Nachlas says knowing how to teach about the terrorist attacks can be tricky.
"Their homework assignment was to interview somebody," she tells us. "Interview an adult who remembered the events of 9/11. And I gave them three questions and they had to come up with two of their own."
"When I interviewed my mom, she said I was at my grandma's house watching Sesame Street," says Maureen Hueting. "And my grandma didn't know what was going on since the phones were all down. So, my mom was nervous since she couldn't reach my grandma."
"I didn't really like talking about it because it was really a sad thing," adds Ben Miller. "But we need to know about it and how to prevent it from happening again."
We're not about scaring children or making them unhappy," says Poole Middle School principal Charlotte Boucher. "What we're about it helping them be better citizens in the future. One of the things that are important for kids to learn as they think about 9/11 is that we suffered great loss and there were tremendous tragedies, but the heroes that emerged from that horrible experience stay with us to contribute to our community for the unforeseen future. And they can be those heroes too."