On Thursday, April 11, all students in grades 7-12 had the opportunity to participate in a day of Holocaust education. In the morning, students in grades 7-9 assembled the Wheatley auditorium to see the play “From the Fires: Voices of the Holocaust.” This play traced the life of a Berlin teenager from 1937 to 1945 and helped students understand the events of the Holocaust in an age-appropriate and accessible way. Following the performance, students had the opportunity to participate in a question-and-answer session with the playwright, Jeff Sanzel, and the ensemble. The cast was thoroughly impressed with the maturity of the students and their ability to ask high-level questions.
At the same time, students in grades 10-12 listened intently to Felice Katz, who gave her mother’s testimony of surviving the horrors of the Holocaust. Audience members were so touched by her family’s story that Ms. Katz stayed to talk to several upper-classmen who were free the following period.
In the afternoon, the older students watched “From the Fires” while those in grades 8 and 9 heard Evelyn Altenberg tell the story of her parents, survivors from Germany. The connection between the historical fiction they had seen in the morning and the true story of one family’s survival was quickly apparent. Seventh graders heard Ms. Katz speak at Willets Road School.
Throughout the day and into Friday, students reflected on the presentations with their teachers and peers. Thank you to the entire East Williston school community for supporting programming that touches upon difficult yet important topics such as genocide and tolerance.
Thank you to Dr. Eckers for arranging this most impactful day.
[Thank you to Dr. Eckers for some of the photos.]