Nations, CHS commemorates 9/11 victims 15 years later
September 11, 2016
The following story was published on the ten year anniversary of 9/11. The Sidekick would like to take this day to cherish the lives lost and the people still affected by this tragedy fifteen years later.
By Julianne Cauley
September 11, 2001 was recorded in history as “the day that changed everything.” However, for Coppell citizens, the chaotic, confusing and frantic atmosphere was not only a result of events occurring in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C., but at Coppell High School as well.
Because the school day started roughly an hour before the first plane struck the North Tower, the day started normally without any sense of alarm. Parents had begun to venture to work as if it were a normal day; it was not until 8:46 a.m. that suspicions erupted.
“I dropped [my son] off at school, came in and got ready for the day; then I saw I had received an e-mail from another teacher saying that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center,” AP Calculus teacher Jan Bourg said.
At this time everything was quite vague, and no one had a clear or definite idea of what was going on.
“Not many people had cell phones,” Biology teacher Jennifer Martin said. “That was part of the issue with communication, so after the first plane crashed, everybody thought it was an accident.”
However, these attacks would soon be noted as no accident. Seventeen minutes later, a plane crashed into the South Tower at 9:03 a.m.
“We were simply trying to make sense of two planes crashing into buildings on the same day,” Bourg said. “Nothing like this had ever happened before – people did not say ‘Oh it is a terrorist attack’ – no one said that.”
Ten years ago, the primary reason for the confusion about what was happening was a result of the lack of developed technology.
“Today if that happened [students] would know within seconds,” AP American History teacher Kevin Casey said. “The students 10 years ago weren’t aware. They knew something had happened and [teachers] knew something had happened, but we did our best not to spend the whole day focusing on it.”
This effort was valiant, but as the day progressed, it was impossible to continue treating September 11, 2001 as a normal school day.
“A lunch had just been released when our school received a bomb threat,” said Principal Mike Jasso, who was an assistant principal at the time. “The day became even more hectic and stressful in the blink of an eye.”
At the time, the school did not have a structured system to use during fire drills, or in this case, bomb threats.
“Everybody just scrambled and exited; they took this bomb threat more seriously than others, simply because of what was going on the rest of the United States at that time,” Jasso said.
Students flooded the outside area of the school as they were led onto the football field, inside the turf room, lined down Town Center Drive and backed up toward Parkway.
“The school was evacuated while I was gone taking my son lunch for his birthday, and they would not let me back on the high school campus after the bomb threat,” Bourg said. “I waited at the Walgreens off Parkway with a ton of parents who were panicking; I stayed helping comfort parents there who could not reach their students.”
Because the school lacked a structured evacuation plan, parents were coming to pick up their kids, but they could not find them – staff did not know where they were in the big mess of things.
“The stress of the day continued to build and build as students were not completely informed, parents were not comfortable with the safety of their children and teachers and administration were not sure of how to best handle the situation,” Jasso said.
The day continued to be filled with terror as two more planes crashed into the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and another crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pa. At the time though, most people at Coppell High School remained uninformed.
“We were cut off due to having to sit outside; we had no idea of what was going on in the world,” Martin said. “They were keeping us isolated as we waited outside for the bomb threat to end,”
After being outside for around three hours, students and staff were allowed back inside the school, and the bomb threat was revealed to be not authentic.
Ten years later, the school has plans to commemorate “the day that changed everything”.
“Monday September 12 is a red, white and blue day to honor America and those who fell during the attacks,” Jasso said. “Coppell High School groups will participate in the City of Coppell 9/11 ceremony as well. Also, the CHS band is working with the Jesuit band to perform a tribute to 9/11 at this week’s away football game.
The city of Coppell is hosting a ceremony on that Monday as well occurring at 9 a.m. at Town Center Plaza, located behind City Hall, 255 Parkway Blvd. The Coppell Fire and Police Color Guards along with the Fire Dept will be featured along with bagpipe and Drum Corps who will perform homage to safety agencies and military men and women.
“I anticipate the school day being quite solemn and reflective on that day while thinking about how the events of 10 years ago changed the world we now live in,” Jasso said. “I want to be able to use this day for a teachable moment and feel that we can use this attack to reiterate the importance of patriotism along with tolerance.”