It was a solemn and unusual scene in Edgewood High School's auditorium Thursday as 150 teachers quietly gathered for their first militarybriefing since war broke out in the Persian Gulf.
With many students who come from the military families stationed at nearby Aberdeen Proving Ground, the schools in the Aberdeen area have taken the bruntof the emotional effect of the news of war, say school principals near the proving ground.
Teachers in those schools wanted to be prepared to answer students' questions and allay fears with facts.
Carl Roberts, principal at Edgewood High School, called on experts at APG, including Col. Robert Mortis, deputy commander of Aberdeen Proving Ground and commander of Support Activity at the proving ground, to provide school teachersaccurate information on the war.
Mortis and other APG brass offered to provide support services, such as counseling, for students and their families and to give teachers briefings on the gulf campaign.
"We're here to tell you what we can do to help you, but really whatyou're doing helps us because they're our kids," Mortis told the teachers assembled in Edgewood High's auditorium.
A military intelligence officer, who asked not to be identified, gave teachers a brief history of the events that led to the war and the reason for the United States' presence in the Middle East.
Charles Hanssen, a 10th-grade world history teacher at Edgewood High, said he was able to use that information in his lesson plan Friday and to respond to students' questions throughout the day.
Hanssen said, "They're dead serious about this. There is no joking around when we talk about the Middle East."
That the students -- from elementary age to high school seniors -- should receive accurate information is essential, teachers agree.
But they also say the daily routine at school should remain structured.
So like Hanssen, many teachers are blending student questions into lesson plans.
For example, at Fallston High School, history teacher Anthony Sarcone said he reads the newspaper each day before class. Then he tries to put historical perspective on recent events in the Gulf war.
"Take air power," said Sarcone. "Since the Battle of Britain in 1940 air power has been important. The nature of technology today is such that you have to establish air supremacy. So there's your historical perspective."
At Roye-Williams Elementary School, second-grade teacher Priscilla Breaux took time Thursday to show her students a map of the Middle East to explain where the war was.
"They're so young, they don't really know whether it's far awayor next door. They had a lot to say about their feelings," said Breaux.