Stuyvesant Community Discussion – Reflecting on 20 Years since the 9/11 World Trade Center Attacks

Twenty years ago, the Stuyvesant High School community found itself frighteningly near the epicenter of the World Trade Center attacks, and the students, faculty, and staff there that day would never be the same, their sense of safety shaken forever.

English teacher Annie Thoms ‘93 worked with students on with their eyes, a play made up of interview-based monologues published a year later as a book, to share collective experiences from the day. Lila Nordstrom ’02 created Stuy Health, an advocacy group representing former students who were in lower Manhattan during 9/11, a journey which led to her testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on behalf of those eligible for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Lila’s new book Some Kids Left Behind: A Survivor’s Fight for Health Care in the Wake of 9/11 and a commemorative re-issue of with their eyes: September 11th–the view from a high school at ground zero, have been published to coincide with the 20th anniversary.

Stuyvesant High School and the Stuyvesant Alumni Association are proud to co-host this virtual community discussion on Stuyvesant community experiences during and since the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, and how they parallel the Covid-19 pandemic in terms of racial profiling, mental health and safety, and the lessons and coping methods learned since.

In addition to a discussion with Annie Thoms and Lila Nordstrom, three alumni – seniors at the time of the attacks and participants in the original production of with their eyes – will read from the published monologues. Current students will also have a chance to share their own more recent experiences with the Covid-19 pandemic to examine parallels between both “disaster communities.”

Monologues will be read by Liz O’Callahan ‘02 and Mohammad Haque ‘02, with participation by Ilya Feldsherov ‘02.

This event will be held on Wednesday, September 8th at 7:00pm ET. The Zoom link will be shared after registering.

All alumni, current students, family, and friends of Stuyvesant are invited to participate. This event is free, but you must register in advance.

Join this Stuyvesant Community Discussion



Annie Thoms ’93 returned to Stuyvesant as an English teacher in 2000, and has taught there for 21 years, with breaks to have children and to work as a Teacher Consultant with the NYC Writing Project. From 2000 to 2007, she was faculty advisor for the Stuyvesant Theater Community. She is the editor of the interview-based monologue play with their eyes: September 11th–the view from a high school at ground zero, which she created with Stuyvesant students in the months after 9/11. Annie currently teaches 9th-grade Composition and the 11th and 12th-grade selective Writing to Make Change. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and three kids, and is eager to return to in-person teaching this fall.


Lila Nordstrom ‘02 is a writer, activist, and the founder of StuyHealth, an advocacy group representing former students who were in lower Manhattan during 9/11 and the resulting cleanup. She’s served as a spokesperson for the 9/11 survivor community’s federal and state legislative efforts since 2007, as well as served three terms on the NIOSH-led World Trade Center Health Program’s Science and Technical Advisory Committee. In June 2019, Lila testified before the House Judiciary Committee on behalf of the estimated three hundred thousand NYC community members eligible for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, and in December 2019 she was awarded New York City’s Bronze Medallion, New York City’s highest civic honor. Originally from New York City, Lila now lives in Los Angeles, California. Her book Some Kids Left Behind, a memoir about the fight to secure funding for 9/11’s youngest victims, is available now.


Ilya Feldsherov ’02 was born in Kyiv, Ukraine and grew up in Brooklyn. He lived in Massachusetts, California, Michigan, and Texas, before eventually returning to New York in 2015. Today he is an attorney at WilmerHale (located at 7 World Trade Center, where he can see Stuy from his office window), focusing his practice on complex commercial litigation and internal corporate investigations. He also has an active pro bono practice, including successfully representing individuals in asylum and family court proceedings as well as challenging improper bail bond practices in Louisiana and voting restrictions in Georgia. Prior to joining WilmerHale, Ilya served as a law clerk for the Honorable Janis Graham Jack of the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas and before that worked as a litigation associate at a Texas education law firm. He lives in Jersey City, NJ, with his wife and dog.


Mohammad Haque ’02 was involved in the Stuyvesant Student Union, serving as Freshman and Sophomore Caucus representative, a Big Sib, and SING!, as the director of Boys Hip-Hop Dance. He contributed to a monologue for the production of with their eyes during his senior year, which was later published as with their eyes: September 11th–the view from a high school at ground zero.

After graduating from Stuyvesant, he attended New York University’s BA-DDS combined 7 year program, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, with minors in Middle Eastern Studies and Sociology in 2006, and a Doctor of Dental Surgery in 2009 on the Dean’s Academic Scholarship.

In 2019, he was featured in the HBO Documentary In the Shadow of the Towers, Stuyvesant High on 9/11, which featured the stories of 8 alumni who witnessed the tragic events of September 11th, 2001.

He is a General Dentist practicing in Queens, NY and currently lives in Roslyn, NY with his wife.


Elizabeth (Liz) O’Callahan ’02 is a Family Physician who was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. She attended Stuyvesant High School from 1998-2002 and was on the 6th floor of the building, in gym class, when two planes crashed into the Twin Towers. She wrote a poem titled “Always Wear Your Walking Shoes” after walking several miles that day. Liz is one of the co-authors of with their eyes: September 11th–the view from a high school at ground zero.

If you have any questions, reach out to [email protected]. The Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association office is currently unable to take phone calls to our main line. Please email us to schedule a phone call.