ANDERSON — It was ISTEP time at Anderson High School and algebra teacher Lori Spencer was monitoring test takers when she learned the first plane had hit the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
She'd stepped into the hall to grab a test booklet for a late student when the hall monitor told her the news. At the time, she thought it was just an accident, perhaps a small plane off route.
"I never dreamt, never thought it'd be something so life changing," she said.
It wouldn't be until four hours later that Spencer would learn a second plane had hit the other World Trade Center tower, a third the Pentagon and a fourth crashing in a field in Pennsylvania during terrorist attacks on the United States.
Anderson High School's Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp. (NJROTC) held a Patriot Day Ceremony in front of the school, near the flagpole, on Wednesday morning to recount the events of that day and remember the fallen.
A timeline of plane hijackings and attacks were read, along with an address from former U.S. President George W. Bush that was given that day in 2001. At the end of the ceremony, with more than 100 students in attendance, taps was played, emergency sirens blared and the flag lowered to half staff.
Twelve years later, Spencer still wants to talk to her students about 9/11. But, even though it was "so life changing it really shook the foundation of my being," she said, she added it's sometimes hard to explain to kids who don't remember much about the day.
Despite a lack of understanding at the time, Anderson High School seniors Aubrey Campfield and Sage Baker said they know what 9/11 means today.
"We can't feel the emotions of that day, we're too young to remember and we can't truly understand the pain," Baker, a member of the NJROTC, said. "But we know what happened and what it stands for."