High Anxiety

In the hallway outside Hollywood High School’s main office, assistant principal Mitzi Kono was slightly prickly in her insistence that the morning‘s traumatic events had little impact upon the day’s schedule, or even upon the mood in the school. ”Students are students,“ said principal Floria Trimble, describing her wards‘ obliviousness when confronted with such a momentous news event. The attacks, she said, had prompted the school to take security measures for public safety, but psychological distress hardly entered into those plans.

Students on the streets outside, however, had a very different interpretation of the atmosphere.

”Everyone was freaking out,“ said Anna Tyutine, a lithe teenager perched on a wall adjoining North Orange Drive, while an older boy in a tank top flirted with her. ”The teachers were talking about it all day long, to us, to themselves,“ she said. ”Whole classes were an open discussion.“

”Most of the teachers were crying the whole day, so we didn’t do much work,“ said Hakop Mkhsyan at the outdoor patio of the In-N-Out Burger across the street.

He said that ”older people“ -- their history teacher, for instance -- had warned them that, having never lived through a war, they might not fully comprehend what the day‘s events could eventually lead to.

Mkhsyan’s friend, Oganes Tebelekyan, sitting at the same table, pushed buttons on a plastic computer game as he distractedly remarked, ”My math teacher said this could lead up to World War III.“

”It might not be World War III,“ countered the slender teen, draped in a bright-yellow hockey shirt, ”but it‘ll be a war.“

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