Canfield High teaches students about terrorism in new class

Dean Conley's counter-terrorism class at Canfield High School teaches students about the history of terrorism and the nation's response to it.
Dean Conley's counter-terrorism class at Canfield High School teaches students about the history of terrorism and the nation's response to it.

CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – This is the first year for the counter-terrorism class at Canfield High School, and two students who took the class say they think it is a topic that will remain relevant.

Americans have experienced terrorism on the home front, with the attacks of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. More recently, Paris, France was the site of attacks claimed by ISIS, an extremist militant group.

For Canfield students, hearing about terrorism and fighting it is one thing. The teacher who leads Canfield’s counter-terrorism class says understanding and talking about it puts it all into perspective.

The teacher, Dean Conley, says terrorism is not a new phenomenon, and that is why he believes the nine-week counter-terrorism class is so important.

“These students, when you think about it… they were in kindergarten or younger when 9-11 happened,” he said. “They’re not really familiar with 9-11. Their lives are kind of defined by the response of 9-11.”

The class entails going over the history of terrorism and different situations of terrorism.

“We learned about Syria, and then we learned about what the United States and what other countries are trying to do to prevent attacks,” explained senior Samantha Fritz.

Students spent much of the class trying to come up with the definition of terrorism.

“In my mind, I think it’s using violence or the threat of violence to achieve some sort of goal, whether it be political or social,” said senior Jacob Tomory.

By Conley’s assessment, the question may be a trick.

“The international community hasn’t even come up with a definition that they agree upon, which then makes counter-terrorism measures even more challenging, because you don’t really know what it is you’re combating,” he said.

Students say they are glad they took the class. They learned a lot, and there is still a lot to talk about.

The big take-home message for one student is not to let the possibility of an attack consume your thoughts.

“I’d say go about your normal lives,” Tomory said. “I mean, don’t be in fear, because that’s the goal of terrorism. Just do what you do, but be aware.”

The counter-terrorism class was part of the first nine weeks of school. Another nine-week class is scheduled.

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