05/05/2011 07:09 pm ET Updated Jul 05, 2011

Students With Bush On 9/11 Recall Moments In Classroom

The death of Osama bin Laden has prompted new reflection on the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, with many Americans looking back on that horrific day with some sense of closure.

For the group of Sarasota, Fla., schoolchildren who spent that Tuesday morning in a classroom with President George W. Bush, the al Qaeda leader's death has brought a flood of memories of those confusing moments. In new interviews with Time magazine, the students -- now teenagers -- recall the president's reaction when White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card informed him of the attack as the class was reading "The Pet Goat."

"In a heartbeat, he leaned back and looked flabbergasted, shocked, horrified," Lazaro Dubrocq, 17, told the magazine.

Bush was widely criticized for remaining in the classroom to finish the book after learning of the terror attack. But several former students at Emma E. Booker Elementary said they believe the president reacted in the best way possible.

From Time:

"I think the President was trying to keep us from finding out," Chantal Guerrero, 16, told the magazine, "so we all wouldn't freak out."

Even if that didn't happen, it's apparent that the sharing of that terrifying Tuesday with Bush has affected those students in the decade since — and, they say, it made the news of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's killing by U.S. commandos on May 1 all the more meaningful. Dubrocq, now a junior at Riverview High School in Sarasota, doubts that he would be a student in the rigorous international-baccalaureate program if he hadn't been with the President as one of history's most infamous global events unfolded. "Because of that," he says, "I came to realize as I grew up that the world is a much bigger place and that there are differing opinions about us out there, not all of them good."