Submitted by Kate Rogers:
“The seed of a creative idea does not die in the mud and scum. Even there it will germinate and spread its blossom like a star shining in darkness.” -- Petr Ginz
Chapman University is distinguished for its multi-faceted Holocaust program whose philosophy is to “keep the promise of never again.” To this end, the Holocaust Art and Writing Contest has been held throughout Southern California for 14 years. Students listen to a full-length testimony of a Holocaust survivor, then write a poem or essay, or create another work of art. Chapman holds this contest with “The 1939 Club,” one of the largest and most active Holocaust survivor organizations operating today.
This year’s theme was “The Courage to Create: Message to the Future.” Top Thurston entrants were Claire Black, Katie Hayden and Vanessa Lortal. The girls and their language arts teachers Laura Silver and Tammy Bonneville attended a special ceremony at Chapman University on March 8th to bring together actual survivors and contestants. After the winners read their submissions, a festival was held with Klezmer music outside under tents. Holocaust survivors were able to meet with the students. Each student received The Holocaust Chronicle, which was autographed by survivors.
“It is powerful to watch middle school students make real connections with Holocaust survivors. We are so proud of our students!” said Ms. Silver. Indeed, it’s refreshing to see local youth who enjoy such privilege to extend their empathetic imaginations to those who suffered some of the most unspeakable horrors in recent history. Katie Hayden reflected, “Meeting the survivors and hearing their horrible stories of the Holocaust really touched me. It's so sad to know in about 30 years almost all of these wonderful people will have passed away. I hope their stories don't go with them.”