CHICAGO (CBS) — As we near the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, it may be hard to fathom that some people don’t remember that day at all.

But they don’t. The reason is they can’t – they weren’t born yet. We’re talking about today’s high schoolers.

CBS 2’s Lauren Victory showed us Thursday night how one school is keeping 9/11 memories alive for those who weren’t around yet.

Inside Resurrection College Prep on Chicago’s Northwest Side are young faces who weren’t even born when tragedy struck on Sept. 11, 2001.

“What is the best way to memorialize a person?” teacher Maria Fumic-Skukan asks her class before playing Bruce Springsteen’s “Into the Fire” The song was famously written as a tribute to 9/11 first responders.

“What do you notice about the picture?” Fumic-Skukan poses about a New Yorker magazine cover. She went on to explain the importance of the Twin Towers to the New York City Skyline.

Analyzing music lyrics and images in her Modern American History Class helps the students understand that day’s impact. Thought-provoking questions give perspective. You’ll find this in several classrooms at the all-girls Catholic school.

“Even in math classes or other subjects that aren’t related to history, there’s always something that we go over to learn about 9/11,” said Gabby Kukulka, a junior.

Media coverage is reviewed in journalism class. The logistics of evacuation is discussed in math. Students study 9/11 from a theological lens, too.

“How did the Catholic Church, how did other Christian-based churches respond to the victim’s needs, their families and the aftermath?” explains Rick Piwowarski, Resurrection College Prep’s president.

“Many events are interconnected,” he added. “When you approach an event from a historical lens, you also have to consider how that event took place from a political lens, from a geographic lens. We try to incorporate that across the board.”

Perhaps the most impactful lesson this year came from a primary source. Alexandra Brzezinski stopped by history class for a quick introduction. Her cousin, Christine Olender, was a 1980 Resurrection alum who died that terrible day.

“I think it’s even more critical now to know what 9/11 meant, what it represents and that we should do what we can that it doesn’t happen again,” Brzezinski said of teaching today’s high schoolers.

A former cheerleader, Olender, 39 at the time, was the assistant general manager at the Windows on the World restaurant in the North Tower.

“’We’re still waiting for direction. We have guests up here,’” Brzezinski reads from an emergency call transcript released in 2007. They are some of Olender’s last words.

“’Can you direct us to a certain quadrant?’” Brzezinski continues reading, starting to tear up. “I mean, I could tell she was being very calm, being responsible for the 75 to 100 people.”

Olender’s professionalism, caring, and a little spunk are qualities looked for in the ongoing high school scholarship that bears her name. Every year, a few thousand dollars are doled out to young women – including Kukulka and sophomore Annaliese Vizconde.

“I think it’s a great way to keep her legacy within the students at RES,” Vizconde said.

The recent winners say the Olender family gift helps pay their tuition and is yet another reminder at school of sacrifices made before their time.

Read More

Leave a Reply