Lobby-O Honors the 20th Anniversary of 9/11

A photo from the History Department's 9/11 archive of Lobby-O's recount of the 9/11 memorial ceremony at WHS

Kiley Vallee '22

A photo from the History Department’s 9/11 archive of Lobby-O’s recount of the 9/11 memorial ceremony at WHS

September 11, 2001 is a day that will forever be remembered. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by terrorist group Al-Qaeda claimed the souls of 2,977 innocent people. The attacks also left more than 6,000 injured and thousands without loved ones. The Lobby Observer, as a student news site, hopes to honor the tragedy with some insight from WHS teachers and first-hand recounts from the History Department’s 9/11 archive.

The Lobby Observer covered this tragedy just a month after it happened on October 11, 2001. This ceremony was held in the lobby with students and faculty members overlooking the balconies. The assembly was as much a ceremony of unity as it was one of remembrance. The principal at the time spoke heavily about staying together and strong through these tough times and staying proud to be an American. He wanted to relay the message that America is stronger together, rather than separated.  

It has now been 20 years since this devastating day and there is much to be learned and much to be remembered. Although no current students at Westborough High School were alive for this day, The Lobby Observer interviewed some faculty and former students who remember that fateful day. 

In 2001, Westborough High was at the start of a normal school day. It was 10:00 a.m. when teachers were notified that an announcement on the loudspeaker was about to take place. Amy Lareau, a 14 year old Westborough student at the time, recalled being a student in Mr. Belbin’s class when discovering the news. 

She states, “We began class with our new teacher talking about current events. Mr. Chapman rushed in and told us the news.”

Mr. Teevens, a current Westborough High School teacher, was a student in Westborough in 2001. 

He recalls,

“I was in Mrs. Casale’s 7th grade science class”, Mrs. Casale brought the rolling TV in and watched the second plane hit…The World was very different before and after it…this is going to sound cliche but everything changed.””

— Mr. Teevens

Mr. Teevens shared a piece of writing he wrote five years after the attacks of 9/11 as a student at WHS in 2006. He notes that many people were still worried that another such attack could occur at any time and that many Americans felt more vulnerable as a result of this.

Social Studies teacher Ms. Power recalls,

“I was teaching…I remember pulling up MSN, I think, the homepage, and I saw a picture of one of the towers on fire.””

— Ms. Power

Ms. Power said many people thought it was just a plane crash, not a terrorist attack. After realizing what occurred, Ms. Power says, “School day was really eerie because our principal came over the intercom and told us that we had been attacked.”  

Despite the traumatic day, students and staff were not let out for school and instead took trips down to the library to watch the news on TV. Ms. Power agreed that school shouldn’t have been dismissed because of the amount of unknown information circulating throughout the nation.

Looking back, Ms. Power remembers experiencing “complete horror” just after the event. “it still shocks me that it happened…because it was so extraordinary…something you’d see in a fictional movie.”

Nine days after 9/11, Westborough Superintendent Stephen Diott sent out a letter to promote “tolerance, respect, and understanding of cultural differences.” He described how the Sikh community in Westborough at the time went to the superintendent, talking about the issues they had faced based on the recent stereotyping after 9/11’s events. They wrote a two-page paper about their intentions as a religious group and their difficulties. The superintendent sent it to all the teachers to promote diversity and respect during the difficult time.

The anniversary of 9/11 reminds many of the emotions, perspectives, and unity of the United States during this difficult time. In honor of 9/11, WHS planted 4 trees outside the library ten years ago: two apple trees for New York, a Cherry Blossom tree for Washington DC, and a Pennsylvania Pine Tree for Pennsylvania. They wrap the trees in yellow ribbons every year to honor those fallen and those still affected to this day.