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First Eye-Witness of 9/11 Presents to Higley High Students

Twenty years ago, on September 11th, Jennifer Oberstein had just exited the subway in Battery Park when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. Through the wonderment and chaos of the morning, Oberstein called in to NBC’s Today Show to give her account of the events as they played out in front of her. Viewers heard her depiction of events and her immediate response to the second plane hitting the second tower.


Higley High School’s Alana Charnofsky had spent several years showing the Today Show’s broadcast to her US History students to help them better understand how Americans witnessed the events of September 11th. However, this year, Ms. Charnofsky wanted to do more. Through the magic of the Internet, Ms. Charnofsky connected with Ms. Oberstein, who agreed to share her story with more than 600 students at Higley High School.


“I hope that students gain a deeper connection to the events of 9/11 and how it affected different people that lived through it,” Ms. Charnofsky said. “While they were not alive for 9/11, they were given the opportunity to hear from an eyewitness on what the experience was like from a bystander perspective.”


The discussion took place virtually on September 12th for students in Ms. Charnofsky and Chelsea Trevino’s history classes. Ms. Oberstein shared her experience, which included events from that morning, the hours after the attack, the lack of information for those near the epicenter of 9/11, and even discussing the events of that next morning and how America came together in solidarity.


“It is so important for students to gain a deep understanding of the events that have shaped American history, and in turn their own history,” Ms. Charnofsky said. “It is crucial for them to learn history from those that lived through it, and to understand the events are not one-dimensional.”


To view Ms. Oberstein’s NBC News appearance and reflection on the attacks of 20 years later, please click here.