Principal, teachers recall the events of 9/11

‘A flashbulb memory,’ O’Hara says


Mary Stempky

One American flag for every victim of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been placed in the courtyard in front of Loretto Hall.

Annika Garwood, Reporter

Sept. 11, 2001 will forever be a day of remembrance for the citizens of the United States. It was a day when many lives were lost, but also a time when people came together to support the residents of New York, the military and citizens serving at the Pentagon and passengers who succesfully fought back on Flight 93.

For an adminstrator and two teachers, the day was unlike any other and will always be etched into their memories.

Principal Mr. Dave Worland

Q: Were you the principal of Cathedral High School during the events of 9/11?

A: I was not the principal here at Cathedral; however, I was the principal at Lafayette Catholic Junior-Senior High School.

Q: What were you doing when you find out what happened to the Twin Towers?

A: When it became apparent that there was a terrorist attack, we were actually in the middle of ISTEP testing. Once I became aware of what was happening in our country, I canceled the testing and called the school together to explain to them what had happened. We then immediately held an all-school prayer service to pray for the victims and all who were in harm’s way.

Q: What were the reactions of people around you like?

A: The school gathered in the cafeteria together to watch the live reports on TV about the tragic attack. Others who were not comfortable watching the media went to their counselor and we had many who went to the chapel to pray.

Q: How did you feel emotionally about what you were witnessing?

A: I sympathized for not only those in New York, but also their families. It was a scary, unnerving, unsettling experience for us to watch and experience, but I was so impressed with the students’ ability to comprehend what had happened and turn to their faith for some level of comfort.

Theology teacher Ms. Katie Klee

Q: What were you doing when you found out what happened in New York?

A: I was sitting in my sixth grade classroom when I saw teachers whispering and pacing frantically in the hallway. No announcements were made. We had a half-day of school that day so my dad picked me up and took me to lunch (as was our half-day tradition). On the drive, he explained to me what had happened, but none of the events made sense in my mind.

Q: How did you feel emotionally about what you witnessed?

A: I got home that day and watched hours of news coverage about the event and I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was terrifying. To this day, I still have a hard time processing the events of that day.

Q: Did any of your friends or anyone you knew have relatives that worked in New York in the towers?

A: No, but one story I’d heard after the fact was my third grade teacher’s daughter had a friend who worked in the Twin Towers. Her daughter and her daughter’s friend had been on the phone very late the night before the attacks. Because they’d been up so late talking, her friend decided not to go into work the next day. I can’t imagine the bittersweet feeling she must’ve had the next day because she decided not to go to work. I also can’t imagine what it would be like to watch the place in which you work fall to the ground as well as worry for the safety of all your colleagues. Wow.


Mr. John O’Hara ’02, social studies teacher; football and track coach

Q: What were you doing when you found out the Twin Towers had been hit?

A: We didn’t have a lot of live TV options in the school, but I was in a photography class and we were listening to the radio working on a project when they said something along the lines of an explosion at the World Trade Center. So we had the TV in the corner of the room that got a decent signal and we were able to turn it on right after the second plane had hit. They were still kind of confused as to what happened. So everyone didn’t really know how to act right away because it was something that nobody had ever witnessed or seen. So everyone was a little freaked out, and as students started talking to each other in the hallways and with teachers, a lot of kids starting worrying about their parents or family members that traveled. A very small amount of students had cell phones, but no texting availability. Some were able to contact their parents, but I know there was a really long line at the office to use that telephone. So it was a lot of shock, and wonderment as to what was going to happen next, and the general state of fear.

Q: Did Cathedral offer any prayer service after the school day was over?

A: Some of the teachers chose to turn on the TV and we would watch coverage, and a lot of teachers chose not to. Then as we heard the Pentagon was hit and Flight 93 went down in Pennsylvania, we knew this was a pretty terrible moment. At the end of the day, we did have a prayer service. We did not have any events after school, no practices, no extracurriculars, no clubs, no meetings. It was for us a time to go home and see our families and kind of re-evaluate the day.

Q: Do you have any final comments or thoughts about the events of 9/11?

A: I would say being a senior in high school, it was definitely kind of a landmark moment that has no led us into the age that we are in, you know doing things in a different manner because of terroristic moments that have not only happened here in the United States but also globally. But it was definitely one of those flashbulb memories that I’ll never forget. You really kind of take a moment to think about how your overall relationships are with people and how we should be able to learn from these moments and try not to repeat history when it becomes a negative action.