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Students Seek Out 9/11 Stories

As we approach the 20th anniversary of 9/11, students in Liz Perry’s Literature of War class met with members of St. Luke’s faculty and staff to hear their memories of this time in our history. 

Sixteen one-on-one interviews took place where students asked, “What do you remember from 9/11?”

J.B. Barr ‘22 sat with Christine Costello, St. Luke’s Executive Assistant to Head of School, who was a Senior Production Associate for ABC News in the newsmagazine division at the time of the attacks. After returning from an assignment on a late night flight from Little Rock, Arkansas, Costello, asleep in her New York City apartment, was awoken the morning of 9/11 by her brother calling and asking where she was. He urged her to turn on the television. As she did, she saw the second plane crash into the World Trade Center. She got dressed, grabbed her go bag, and headed to her office on the West Side.

“9/11 was the day I grew up.”

“My assignment was to go to the satellite feed room of ABC News and review all the live footage that was coming in from the World Trade Center. I was 27 years old, all alone, and witnessing in real time the events of that morning. In the middle of all of that, I was using the phone on the edit floor, since cell phones weren’t working, to try to get in touch with the people I cared about who were working in the Trade Center and downtown. I was asked to work in the newsroom with anchor Peter Jennings that afternoon and evening. I was assigned to the team doing the first reporting of Flight 93. 9/11 was the day I grew up. A day in my life I will never forget.” 

Juniors and seniors in the Literature of War class examine questions such as: Why do we go to war? What is the effect of war on those who lead it, those who serve in it, those caught up in it as civilians, and those who stay at home waiting for news of it? They study the ways writers of nonfiction and fiction have attempted to answer these questions in a global context. Acknowledging 9/11 is an important part of the class. 

“...I want my students to experience firsthand the power of gathering these community stories.”

Head of Upper School Liz Perry shared: “I always include recognition of 9/11 in my Literature of War class. For me, it's personal, as I was born and raised in Manhattan. It's also pedagogical, as I want my students to experience firsthand the power of gathering these community stories. The course is centered on the question, "How do we remember and tell the stories of war?" Most of what we study will be formal literature or film, but it's important to me that my students see that war stories are all around them – not just on remote battlefields or in history books. Collecting these stories is a way for students to understand what brought us into that war in the first place, especially given the American withdrawal from Afghanistan in the last few weeks. I'm always so moved by the faculty and staff members who generously volunteer their time and open up to share their 9/11 experiences.”

Thank you to the faculty and staff who shared their stories:

Ginny Bachman
Kate Parker-Burgard
John Connors
Christine Costello
Jim Foley
Dale Griffa
Ryan Kohl
Magistra Mahler
Michael Mitchell
Elizabeth Nelson
Jacqueline Nelson
Valerie Parker
Michael Rupp
Nancy Troeger
Matt Ward
Jeorge Yankura

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St. Luke’s School is a secular private school in New Canaan, CT for grades 5 through 12 serving 25 towns in Connecticut and New York. Our exceptional academics and diverse co-educational community foster students’ intellectual and ethical development and prepare them for top colleges. St. Luke’s Center for Leadership builds the commitment to serve and the confidence to lead.