I studied at Sylvan school, around the block from my house, until fifth grade. It was so easy to run for two minutes, and be at school. I could here other kids yelling and playing from my bedroom every day. I could even see the playground from my window. It was so close, and seemed almost a part of my backyard. The outside world, beyond my quiet suburban block in Rutherford, hardly entered. Until one day in 1986.
I used to go home for lunch every afternoon, since I lived so close to home. One day, everything felt different. I ran back to class, after a sandwich and juice for lunch, and when I got close to the school building, I realized that something was going on. First of all, a hush has descended upon the place. The shouting, laughing, and normal sounds of childhood couldn’t be heard. My classmates were not playing, or even outside. They has all gone inside, or were being called inside. I wasn’t late, and so this was really disturbing to my 10-year-old mind. Then I noticed my 5th grade teacher, and he was crying. Not sobbing, but his eyes were clearly red, and he looked shocked as he waved straggling students into the school. I started to feel a chill down by spine. I remember thinking: “Teachers aren’t supposed to cry. What happened?”
What happened was that the Challenger had just blown up, killing the crew, and devastating all who watched the horrific scene. I was ten, and couldn’t really understand, but I knew that this was bad. Everyone just looked so dumbfounded. The news kept showing the scene again and again. The whole student body sat transfixed, silent, and shocked. And my teachers, unashamed, let the tears run down their cheeks.
Those tears shocked me the most. My little world had been ripped open by a much darker reality. Life, was, of course, much bigger than my block. It just hadn't really occurred to me that often.