Although the room in which I sat on the morning of 9/11 at Marshall High School was torn down earlier this year for a much-needed renovation, the memory still lives. What happened in FCPS in the days that followed the attack mirror what has happened in the decade since—the discovery of our best and worst traits as a people.
Fairfax County Public Schools are unique both for their proximity to Washington, D.C., and for their diversity, inclusive of people from around the world. As we waited to hear news of our loved ones and former colleagues, our community’s ties to national governance and the world became apparent. Mirroring the country at-large, the headlines in the Marshall student newspaper, the “Rank & File, ” described the student response to the attack, which ranged from the inspiring--“Students help out in blood drives, many turned away,” “Juniors help out area firemen through food drive,” “Student joins Red Cross”—to the disheartening--“Muslim hate crimes hit home.”
We were no longer innocent, passive learners of history—we had become its protagonists. We realized both the positive and negative changes one person can make in the world, and we have aspired in many different ways to brighten an otherwise ugly narrative. On 9/11, the test-tube that is our schools had been put through a violent centrifuge, and we learned more about ourselves as a result. One day we will emerge from our national lock down as better people.