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Elementary school educators teach 9/11's impact

FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2001 file photo, President George W. Bush embraces firefighter Bob Beckwith while standing in front of the collapsed World Trade Center buildings in New York as rescue efforts continue. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)

FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2001 file photo, President George W. Bush embraces firefighter Bob Beckwith while standing in front of the collapsed World Trade Center buildings in New York as rescue efforts continue. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Ask anybody where they were when the Sept. 11 attacks happened 10 years ago and they'll most likely recall in vivid detail what they were doing, how they felt and the ensuing emotion of it all.

But what about those who were too young to remember the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center's Twin Towers?

One staff member at a local elementary school said what's most important when teaching 9/11 to young students is that they "think of it as more than history."

Kim Thames, a media specialist at Meadowcreek Elementary School, said it is "very important for us to teach them how life is different in the wake of that event."

Marcus Green, a teacher at Stripling Elementary School in Norcross, said the school has taken a team approach to teaching the events of 9/11 through history and art.

As a history lesson, Green said, it's important to "get them connected to the event. As teachers, we were all connected to the event because we saw it happen in our lifetimes."

Added Green: "A lot of these students were just born around that time. They don't understand some of the emotion of it all. For many of the kids, the first question they have is why? Why would something like this happen to our country?"

Merle Soodyall, a music teacher at the school, said she tries to stress to students the importance of art as an outlet for emotion.

"We talk about the National Anthem and music created today as well that allowed many artists to move the emotions into their music," Soodyall said.

"The 9/11 event was unfortunate, but we don't forget about it, and we will never forget about it, and we hope our students will remember it as well."

Teaching 9/11 to students as young as kindergarten and first grade means talking a lot about heroes, Thames said.

"There were heroes," Thames said. "It was a horrific event, but there were heroes."

For second- through fifth-grade students, she said, "we explain that many people were hurt and many lives were lost."

Thames said most second- and third-graders were born in 2001. "We hope we can convey to them the significance of the event ... and why it affected the nation."