Chronology of Events
tuesday, september 11, 2001
8:48 a.m. -- The first plane hits the north tower. Many at Stuyvesant hear the bang, and feel the school tremble.
8:50 - 9:02 a.m. -- Principal Stanley Teitel contacts the school superintendent's office, and determines it is safest to keep all students inside the building. Over the loudspeaker, an administration official informs the Stuyvesant community that a "small plane" has hit the World Trade Center.
9:03 a.m. -- The second plane hits the south tower. Many students, faculty, and staff see the collision, and watch the ensuing fire from the building's south-facing windows. Some turn on the televisions which hang in each Stuyvesant classroom. Phone communications from the building are jammed.
9:04 - 9:49 a.m. -- FBI and Secret Service agents enter the building, and begin to set up Stuyvesant as a command post and triage center. Teitel asks the agent in charge, "What are the chances of those towers coming down?" The agent responds, "No chance." Teitel announces over the loudspeaker that all students are to stay in the building. At the bell at 9:25, students move to their next class.
9:50 a.m. -- The south tower collapses. Stuyvesant shakes. Lights flicker, and television pictures turn to static -- the television antenna on top of the World Trade Center is gone.
9:51 - 10:29 a.m. -- Assistant Principal of Student Services Eugene Blaufarb announces over the loudspeaker that students should report to their homerooms. After a brief administrative meeting, he announces that Stuyvesant students and faculty are to evacuate thebuilding, exiting through two doors on the north, sheltered side only. Students are joined on their walk uptown by pedestrians fleeing lower Manhattan, many covered head-to-toe with thick white dust.
The teachers and paraprofessionals working at P.S. 721, the special education school housed in rooms on the top three floors of Stuyvesant, begin to evacuate their students from the school. Most of them are wheelchair-bound. They take the freight elevators down to the first floor and begin their journey to a safe school uptown.
10:30 a.m. -- The north tower collapses, sending a wave of dust up from the World Trade Center and over Stuyvesant. The evacuation continues, as over 3,200 members of the Stuyvesant community funnel through the two doors.
10:31 a.m. and later -- Stuyvesant's theater and gyms continue to be used as a command center. All students and faculty have safely vacated the building. Many staff members, including school safety officers and custodians, remain to help the rescue workers and keep the building running.
Public transportation has been suspended. Students and faculty walk uptown in small groups, splitting off from each other to go to their homes or the homes of friends nearby.
wednesday, september 12
All New York City schools are closed.
thursday, september 13 -- wednesday, september 19
As other New York City schools reopen, Stuyvesant and several other schools in the area remain closed. Stuyvesant's building continues to be used as a command center and staging area for the World Trade Center rescue effort. Thousands of tons of supplies are stored there, and rescue workers are fed, clothed, and housed. Classrooms are filled with clothing and food; cots line the hallways. Many members of the Stuyvesant staff work round-the-clock shifts to aid the rescue workers.
Stuyvesant students, living all over the five boroughs of New York, communicate with each other by e-mail. On internet message boards, they tell each other their stories and share information.
On September 16th, the first Sunday after the attacks, over four hundred Stuyvesant students gather in Greenwich Village to paint two eighty-foot murals: a tree of life growing out of rubble, and a banner honoring New York's heroes.
Stuyvesant's administration and Parents' Association negotiate with the Board of Education, trying to find an alternate site at which to reopen Stuyvesant. Martin Luther King, Jr. High School, in uptown Manhattan, is proposed as a possibility, but ultimately Brooklyn Technical High School is chosen.
thursday, september 20
Stuyvesant reopens on a split schedule at Brooklyn Technical High School. At the opening-day assembly in Brooklyn Tech's auditorium, four times larger than the theater at Stuyvesant, there is 98% student attendance. The Stuyvesant community listens to speeches by Principal Stanley Teitel, Student Union (SU) President Jukay Hsu, and officials from the Board of Education.
friday, september 21 -- friday, october 5
Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Tech share one building. Brooklyn Tech's 4,000 students attend class from 7:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Stuyvesant's 3,030 students attend class from 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., in twenty-six-minute periods.
Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Tech are academic rivals, and a certain amount of tension exists between the two student populations. Stuyvesant students are at a disadvantage in the sprawling floor plan of Brooklyn Tech, where rooms are referred to by floor, compass direction, and room number (1E22, 3W44). Many Stuy students find themselves bewildered by separate up and down staircases.
In English classes, Stuyvesant students answer thousands of letters written by students in schools across the country and as far away as Japan.
On October 2, The Spectator, Stuyvesant's school newspaper, put out a special full-color, magazine-style issue focusing on the events of September 11th. The student-written articles and student photos receive praise and media attention across the city. In November, the issue is reprinted as an insert in The New York Times.
Negotiations over the date of the reopening of Stuyvesant's building continue. Officials in charge of the rescue operation at ground zero leave the building, which is professionally cleaned to remove the dust from the towers' collapse and the rescue effort...with their eyes
. Copyright © by Annie Thoms. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.