September 11, 2001Monologues from Stuyvesant High School
Tuesday, September 11, seemed like any other day at Stuyvesant High School, only a few blocks away from the World Trade Center. The semester was just beginning, and the students, faculty, and staff were ready to start a new year.
Within a few hours that Tuesday morning, they would experience an event that transformed all their lives completely.
Here, in their own words, are the firsthand stories of a day none of us will ever forget.
Thoms, an English teacher at Stuyvesant High School, located four blocks from the site of the World Trade Center, spearheaded a school production last February based on 10 students' recorded interviews (with classmates, faculty and staff members). The students converted the transcripts into "poem-monologues," which they presented and the text of which appears here. In Thoms's introduction, she notes that the goal was "to capture the ways individual people express themselves in speech," and, indeed, the collective impression is one of a group therapy session that may well provide some healing for teen readers still struggling with the event's aftermath. Many of the monologues (at times laced with "um" and "like") probably work better in a dramatization; on the page, the narratives at times falter and a few repeat similar themes. The poignant "Precious Cargo," for instance, begins with a photograph of a student performing as a pregnant English teacher, and her words of protectiveness about both her unborn child and her students read well on the page, but would likely be even more moving onstage. Still, the emotional rhythms of the volume take on a credible ebb and flow. A welcome dash of humor comes through in a freshman's contention that the students' relocation to Brooklyn Tech (while their school functioned as a triage center) put everyone on equal footing ("Everybody was like/ `Where the hell are my classes?'/ so it was kinda like everybody was a freshman"). In the closing entry, perhaps the most smoothly structured in the volume, the school theater manager recalls returning to a newly reopened Stuyvesant to find the flag missing from the stage. Later, he "came across a picture/ of firemen/ installing a flag/ on the mast of the World Trade Center/ and I looked at the picture and my jaw dropped./ It was our flag." Readers willing to overlook less relevant and revealing segments will find a number of moving moments here. Ages 13-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.