Sarasota, Fla. – Ten years after 9/11, members of a second grade class reading to President George W. Bush during his visit to Emma Booker Elementary recall vividly how his expression changed when his chief of staff whispered in his ear.
"I thought something was bothering him and there was some kind of political agenda going on in Washington, D.C. which he had to attend to," said Lazaro Dubrocq, now a high school senior.
"But as we began our reading, he seemed to follow along with us. So, I assumed he dropped the thought and so did I."
The former president has drawn heat from critics for sitting with the class until they finished reading. In an upcoming National Geographic documentary, President Bush explains he didn't want to frighten the children. And students say he made the right decision.
"I ask myself what good would it have done if he had left immediately or if he had panicked and what kind of impression that would have left on, not only the students, but the nation as a whole," said Dubrocq.
As news of the attacks spread, school parents became concerned.
"A bunch of parents came in and kids were leaving early," said former Booker Elementary student Mariah Williams, also now a high school senior. "Their parents thought the school was going to be attacked next because President Bush was here."
Teacher Kay Daniels recalls the difficult task of explaining what was happening to her class in terms simple enough for 7-year-olds to understand, without causing unnecessary fear.
"That was really tough," said Daniels. "Because after I found out what had happened, it took me a moment to absorb it and grieve a little. And I had to do it really quickly because I had to get back over to the kids."
Students say the adults did a good job of the putting events into perspective. While 9/11 shattered some preconceived notions of security, members of the class say they did not grow up in fear.
"The world's not a perfect place and it's not harmonious," said Dubrocq. "But I do believe that the effect was minimized by my parents and by our teachers who wanted to make sure that it didn't affect us to such a degree that we were instilled with the fear of another attack."