Middle School Students React to War

It's not just the families of our troops who are keeping an eye on the war with Iraq, so too are many students. Especially middle school students, 12 and 13 years old. Middle school students are definitely old enough to understand what's going on, but since they're not old enough to remember the first Gulf War, it's difficult for them to make any comparison.

The war with Iraq is not a topic that teachers like Clara Williams of DeRenne Middle School can ignore.

"They're very curious and they want to know what's going on," she said. "And they aren't shy about talking to us or talking about it to their classmates."

The curiosity of her students doesn't surprise her, since most were born right around the time of the first Gulf War. These students never had to deal with anything like this until now. Students at this level are not only familiar with what's going on, they're also forming their own opinions about the war in Iraq. But one of the things they are having trouble with is some of the terminology. They don't really know what a POW is, and they're not exactly sure what a casualty is either. But some students do have a pretty good grasp on some of the complexities our government faces.

"The Kurds, they are helping us with the war and they said if Turkey comes over they will have to fight Turkey, but Turkey is not against the United States, but the Kurds don't like Turkey," explained 13-year-old Padre Clark.

These students have also come to understand what living in fear is like first hand.

"I think every day that something is going to happen," said Isaac Jones, age 12. "That's why I think they should just stop all these events and basketball games and Disney. They should shut all these big main attractions where they have lots of people."

"I try not to think about it to much, so it doesn't get me down," added Padre.

Although the war continues to be a hot topic for many of these middle schoolers, the one thing they completely understand is that war is a harsh reality. They do discuss what goes on in the news every day, but they avoid watching it on TV while they're in the classroom. Many teachers feel there are just too many images being shown right now that could be very disturbing for some kids.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com