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Keeping calm in a maelstrom • Brooklyn Paper

Keeping calm in a maelstrom

Rita Nanes will never forget how calm her school principal was on Sept. 11.

Every time I remember Sept. 11, 2011, Joseph Zaza pops into my mind.

I was a secretary at Leon M. Goldstein HS at the time, when, all of a sudden, I heard on the radio that a plane crashed into the tower. Then, a second plane crashed into the second tower — then word came that a third plane hit the Pentagon.

Parents were arriving to pick up their children. It was chaos, but Joe, our principal at the time, made everything better.

He was very calm as he tried to keep order in the school. He was a new principal at that time, but, somehow, he made everyone, even those that hardly knew him, feel safe. When he asked me what was going on the radio, I told him, “The Pentagon was just hit.”

All he said, “OK,” then he went back to leading children to their classes. He never showed any panic on his face and spent the rest of the day making everyone feel that things were going to be okay.

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