Teaching 9/11 changes as students no longer have memories of eventSubmitted: 09/12/2016
Teaching 9/11 changes as students no longer have memories of event
Katie Thoresen
Katie Thoresen
Senior Producer

EAGLE RIVER - Fifteen years ago, September 11 became a day we'll never forget. 

Most of us can remember where we were, how we felt, and the changes that were made in the years that followed.

But this years' high school freshmen class doesn't have those memories--they were all born around or after 9/11.

"Every day could make history, and every day could alter the path of our country," said Northland Pines U.S. history and psychology teacher Jennifer Leis.

For 12 years now, Leis has taught students about 9/11 in her U.S. history classes at Northland Pines High School.

"Earlier in my career, the kids had remembered parts of it, and I think they remember things changing in their lives a little bit, even," she said. "Now, the kids have no recollection of it."

Leis remembers exactly where she was on September 11, 2001.

"I remember one of my friends saying something about the plane," Leis said. "Initially, I think a lot of people just thought, plane crash, very random, strange thing, but then you heard about the second plane."

And she remembers every emotion.

"Every hour was something new, surprising, shocking, saddening," said Leis.

Today's students rely on the memories of their parents and other adults in their lives. 

"I know exactly where my parents were when it happened," said 14-year-old Amy Deditz. "I know where my grandparents were when it happened. Everybody tells stories." 

Deditz doesn't know a time before 9/11.

"I'm kind of in the dark about it," she said.

Students can see a difference in their teachers' emotion when they teach the subject.

"They lived through it and so they definitely put more emphasis on it and it was such a tragedy," Deditz said.

Leis tries to drive home the importance of what came out of 9/11.

"It's important for them to understand how an older generation really sees something like 9/11 and why concepts like terrorism and homeland are maybe more important for a generation that lived through that," she said.

Even if it's a day they'll never remember themselves, Leis will make sure it's a day students will never forget.

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