Academic journal article Education Next

In the Shadow of Terror: Life Returns to Not Quite Normal at Stuyvesant High. (Education Matters to Me)

Academic journal article Education Next

In the Shadow of Terror: Life Returns to Not Quite Normal at Stuyvesant High. (Education Matters to Me)

Article excerpt

It's a bitter-cold morning in New York City as I cross the Stuyvesant Bridge--known to the rest of the world as the TriBeCa Bridge--and hurry toward the school doors, eager to escape the knifesharp wind, On the threshold, though, I'm stopped mid-step.

"ID card on!" bellows a security guard I've known since I was a freshman. I fumble in my bag, acutely conscious of how late I'm going to be for gym and of how much I detest wearing the blue card. A man who has simply nodded at me every morning of my four years at Stuyvesant High School now needs to see identification before letting me in the school.

Things have definitely changed around here.

Weeks and months have passed. The nightmare that was the morning of September 11 has faded into the background as much as it possibly could have. Stuyvesant High has, accordingly, returned to normal-in most ways, but certainly not all.

It starts with our morning walk down Chambers Street, when we see, down the avenues, the smoke-cloaked masses of debris. During lunch periods, students now are often chased out of the hallways, the gathering places we've always taken for granted. The guards are slowly beginning to relax, but were still careful about where to sit. We simmered over the fact that until February 1 we weren't allowed to leave the building for lunch, a pre-September 11 privilege that we regarded as a birthright.

Those are just the daily, trivial hassles. The important changes show themselves in social studies classes, where it now rakes only the barest spark to begin heated arguments over the United States's forays in the Middle East. Sometimes, a pacifistic argument can be shut down single-handedly with an angry gesture toward the window--in the direction of the still massive mountains of twisted steel and shattered concrete that used to be the World Trade Center. "How can we possibly not retaliate;' a classmate once snapped, "when there are still 3,000 bodies lying in that pile? …

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