Children attending schools near this northern Utah air base are becoming increasingly tense and subdued with each day the Persian Gulf war goes on, officials say.
Christi Zizumbo, a fifth-grade teacher at Hill Field Elementary, said that since hostilities began, concerns are surfacing in the entries students keep in their journals each day at school."The kids write in there that they hate Saddam Hussein. Some are really scared," she said.
Hill Field Elementary has more than 200 children whose parents are deployed as part of the U.S. military effort in the Middle East. Principal Pat McKay said everything is being done to address students' fears and questions.
"I have a group of social workers to assist me on a moment's notice if a father (of a student) is killed," she said. "We told our staff how to deal with individual children showing fears and anxieties. And that makes my staff feel better equipped."
Sarah McCain, a sixth-grader at the school, said she is afraid for her father, an Air Force chaplain in Saudi Arabia - but she feels he is safe.
"I'm scared, but I think he is in a safe place," she said. "I get lonely sometimes because we used to do a lot of things together. I talk to my friends (with parents deployed) and tell them, `It's OK, they're going to be all right.' "
David Carter, a sixth-grader whose father has not yet been deployed, said, "I talk to my parents when I think about the war. I think about how people may crash and die."
McKay said there has been no increase in student absences since the war began late Wednesday. However, on Thursday - "pizza day" - a lot of meals came back half-eaten, indicating some effects of stress, she said.
Organized counseling groups at the school began in October during after-school hours and concluded in December.
At Adams Elementary School in Layton, Principal Forest Barker said the mood at the school reminds him of another historic day.
"I remember riding to school on the bus," the day following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, he said. "I was in the seventh grade . . . and ours was the noisy bus. But that morning, I can remember the quiet.
"The feeling (now) is not a bit different. There's a kind of a tenseness."