Local 9/11 nonprofit working to teach students about terrorist attack

BROCKTON, Mass. — As the 15 year anniversary of 9/11 nears, the Massachusetts 9/11 Fund is working to teach the historical event to a generation of students too young to recall what happened that day.

"Airport security, getting patted down, bags checking and everything...That’s what we're used to,” said high school senior Carlie Brainad.

Seniors at Brockton’s Cardinal Spellman High school were 3 years old on Sept. 11, 2001. Some at the high school weren't even born yet. They've learned about the events of 9/11 like any other historical event.

“It seemed like something you would see in a history book. Something you would read about,” said Jose Mendor.

"You know, what happened, that two planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City. But, me personally, I didn't know they came from Boston,” said Grace Kudla, a senior.

A new program is taking a new approach to teaching the recent historical and country changing event, using real people and real stories.

“My husband was murdered on 9/11 on Flight 11, American Airlines,” said Linda Gay, vice president of the Massachusetts 9/11 Fund.

Gay, from Tewksbury, has been rolling out the Massachusetts 9/11 Fund’S program to high schools across the state.  It incudes people with personal connections to the tragic events, from families to first responders, go to classrooms to talk to students.

This school year, the Massachusetts 9/11 Fund is adding a documentary it produced that doesn't water down history. It includes voices of other young people, including Gay's own daughter speaking about her dad.

It has brought to history to life, showing the impact of the 206 Massachusetts residents that died.

"We as a country made a vow not to forget,” said Joani Querzoli.

School Director of Service Joani Querzoli said the program was the missing link in the classroom to keep the conversation going.

“As far as first responders go, thinking that they had to willingly go towards that danger,” said student Patrick Doyle.

"Hearing their stories really does have an emotional impact and we just connect to it so much more now,” said Grace Kudla, a senior.

The Mass 9/11 fund plans to present the curriculum to two to three high schools every quarter this year.  Their ultimate goal is to present this to all Massachusetts high schools.