Students all over the New York City area were directly affected by the events on September 11. This is what three of them said.
"Go Back, Run!"
The lights flickered and went out. Then we heard a really loud crash. We ran to the windows and saw tons of people running up the streets from the towers. I ran to the other side of the school, and saw the first building collapsing. It was coming in on itself. Dark black smoke was going everywhere. I saw people screaming. I was stunned.
The assistant principal said for all of us to go to our homerooms. Then, he told us to walk up the West Side Highway with our teacher. A policeman was standing in front to direct us. We were walking forward when suddenly he said, "Go back, go back into the school!" We turned around and I saw smoke. We started to jog back, and then the policeman screamed, "No, wait, go back, run!" That's when I saw more smoke coming around the other side of the school. This big cloud of black smoke from the second Trade Center tower was enveloping the whole school.
It was unreal.
Jack Kirkland, 13, attends Stuyvesant High School, New York City, near the World Trade Center.
"Dust Is Flying"
I'm sitting in class. Suddenly, there's a huge crash and I look out the window and there's all this smoke coming. The smoke gets to be more and more and more until the windows are white and you can't see outside at all. They said we should start evacuating, and while we were leaving there's another crash. Dust is flying toward the school like a big wall. At that point, everyone starts running. My house is close to my school, but at the time there was still all this dust flying, so they told us to keep going uptown. I went along with the crowd. When I got up farther north, I wasn't sure whether my house had been covered in dust or not. I called my dad and he said try to come home. My house was OK. But now my school is covered in dust and debris.
Now I think it seems hard to try to plan anything. It's so uncertain. You just have to think about it, minute by minute. All the stuff I was thinking about then doesn't matter.
Joe Ahearn, 15, goes to Stuyvesant High School, New York City, near the World Trade Center.
"They're Blaming Me"
We were in English class and saw a girl coming down the hallway, crying and yelling, "My mom is in that building!" Then the principal said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.
We were all amazed and devastated. Half of my friends were crying because they thought their parents were in there.
Then a girl said to me, "You people did this to us." The girl ran down the hallway and I couldn't say anything. They're blaming me, and I didn't do anything. I was there right next to them when we saw it happen on TV. I was as sad as they are. I was born here. Before, I felt the United States was very powerful. But this only happened seven miles away from us. We saw how easy it is. It could happen again.
Ann Marie Atewan, 14, of Rutherford High School in Rutherford, New Jersey, is of Egyptian heritage.
These stories originally appeared under the title "Teens Speak Out" in the October 15 and 22, 2001, issues of Junior Scholastic.