PETERBOROUGH -- The intercom at Conval Regional High School crackled to life shortly before the second class ended Tuesday morning. Principal Susan Dell told students and teachers about the terrorist attacks in New York City, and urged calm.
"At first, I didn't even know what to think," said Conval senior Sueren P. Vayens of Antrim, gathering her books between classes. She said many relatives live in the New York area, and she had no idea if they were safe.
"People can't even comprehend what happened," Vayens said. "Some say it's the beginning of a war."
School continued at Conval Tuesday, but the lessons were anything but regular. Classes talked about what had happened in New York, or just watched television news.
Things were much the same at other Monadnock Region high schools and middle schools, where students and teachers watched television coverage; elementary-school students were mostly sheltered from news of the disaster.
Conval High had two television sets in the library, and up to 150 students and teachers gathered there at any given time -- sitting on the floor, or standing between bookshelves -- watching in stunned silence.
"It's really surreal," said senior Jennifer Peterson of Peterborough. "You know how you have activities in class to see what World War II was like," but it's never really scary. "Today I was really scared.
"We all just took American history last year. This is one of those events history classes will be learning about."
Peterson's aunt is a student at New York University -- just north of the area of the attack --and hadn't contacted family in New Hampshire by Tuesday afternoon.
"My parents say they remember where they were when they found out (President John F.) Kennedy was shot. We'll tell our kids where we were when the World Trade Center blew up," said senior Jason Royko of Hancock.
"I don't think any of us can understand the magnitude of what's happened," said history teacher Michael Wozmak, sitting in the library with students.
Shortly after making the intercom announcement, Principal Dell said, "We're going to try to keep our day going with the understanding that things are difficult and things have changed."
At other high schools and middle schools, teachers and students spent most of the day talking about the tragedy. Elementary schools were another matter.
"We try to keep the littlest kids as sheltered from this as possible," said Curtis J. Cardine, superintendent for Monadnock Regional, Winchester and Hinsdale school districts.
Same in Jaffrey-Rindge, said Pamela K. Murphy, school business manager, where the younger students from the two towns weren't told of the tragedy.
"We made the decision early on to keep the day as normal as humanly possible under the circumstances," said Murphy. "We have counselors for any students who'd like to talk with someone about what's going on."
Older students were told what had happened, but radios and TVs were off around the younger students.
"It was our feeling that parents would be best equipped to deal with these issues at home," said Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School Principal Thomas J. Fitzgerald.