It was the first day of school for my new cohort of fourth graders here in our New York City private school. Those kids are now moving on with their lives and the ones I’m going to meet in a few hours were not alive back then. But they will find a mascot of sorts in the classroom — ladybugs. I will hid 18 of them and when they come into the classroom each child will be required to find one. That will relax them and give me a chance to explain the ladybugs.
Because September 11, 2001 was the first day of school for Ms. Edinger’s fourth graders. They walked into her classroom that morning to discover a surprise — good luck chocolate ladybugs on their desks. They were delighted and happy, looking forward to a new school year. But then the planes hit the towers and everything changed.
For a long time after that nothing felt right at the school and in New York City. For weeks there were bomb threats, anthrax scares, helicopters hovering, jets zooming overhead, sudden-street-closings, the sound of police sirens, the National Guard everywhere, and frightening emergency evacuations unnerving everyone all the time. When the class finally had a week when nothing scary happened, Ms. Edinger gave each child another chocolate ladybug and explained how they were a symbol of good luck. For many of the children, this was so important that they kept those ladybugs in their desks all year. Many kept them for years after and may still have them for that matter.
To help the rest of the world better understand what it was like for these New York City children, Ms. Edinger wrote about them on several Internet list serves she was on. She was also invited to write an article for the London Times Educational Supplement which you can read here. And when people read about how important those good luck ladybugs were for her students they started sending them and the room became filled with them.
Ever after ladybugs have been a symbol for Ms. Edinger’s class. Her room is full of them!