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Sophomores Visit Holocaust Museum

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Sophomores Visit Holocaust Museum

Ellie Dugan, Staff

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The Holocaust – one of humanity’s worst crimes and a terrifying insight into the depths to which human beings can sink – recently became a topic of study for Grade 10 GT English students. Students read Night, a memoir which shares the experiences of the author Elie Wiesel during the Holocaust, as well as excerpts from Maus by Art Spiegelman. Wiesel describes Jewish persecution by the Nazis and tells of injustices he witnessed within the walls of a ghetto and various concentration camps, while Maus describes, in graphic novel format, the experiences of Spiegelman’s father, a Polish Jew, during the Holocaust. 

Students of these English classes were swept up into the novels’ worlds and learned about the horrors of the Holocaust in an unforgettable way. 

After having read the books, students were informed that they would be taking a class field trip to the Holocaust museum, the intent of which was to build their perspectives on the events surrounding the persecution of Jews under the Nazi regime. 

The organization of the trip was a team effort.  English teacher Melanie Coates was its main facilitator.  Having won a $2000 grant from the BCPS Education Foundation, Ms. Coates was able to send students on a trip that was both educational and generally inexpensive for its participants.  She had additional help from English teacher Greg Hill, and World History teachers Kesari Petroff and Brendan Kennedy. 

The interdisciplinary method in which the trip was conducted allowed for the development of connections between English and World History.  The study of the human experience and its continuities and changes will assist students in making connections among such concepts such as tyranny, genocide, morality, and perspective analysis. 

To further develop upon the history of World War II and the Holocaust, which students will likely begin to study in April, Ms. Petroff plans on bringing into class a Holocaust survivor who will be able to tell of his/her experience and conduct a lesson in which students will study the Holocaust and its historical significance.   

Just like the museum, this lesson will undoubtedly be an impactful and emotional experience; many students were touched by their visits to the museum. 

“The whole experience was really, really good.   Just the way that the museum was set up – all of the exhibits and all that – just like conveyed a lot of emotion,” said sophomore Emma Angell. 

As well as having liked the emotionally interactive aspects of the museum, Angell also appreciated the fact that the museum was set up chronologically.   

“Everything was in order of how it happened, and it just made a lot of sense,” she said. 

The museum uses elements of truth and emotion in its presentations, the combination of which provide to its viewers what can only be described as a shocking and enlightening experience.  The chronological way in which the exhibits are oriented help to tell the story of the Holocaust in an easy-to-follow method, which helped make the experience a significant learning opportunity.  The museum also has a very emotional vibe, and its interior seems to reflect loss and remembrance.  

Sophomore Arden Hitchcock recalled having been susceptible to the museum’s atmosphere. 

“There’s a – sort of like – emotion and feeling – almost like energy – that’s attached to [the artifacts] and being in their presence is just kind of like…It’s really overwhelming and impactful,” said Hitchcock. 

She highlighted on what she considered to be the most memorable part of the exhibit: the candlelight memorial. 

“For me, the candlelight vigil at the end – the memory hall – was really the most impactful thing.  I think that the feeling in there was so – it was very heartbroken, and you could feel the sadness and the gravity of the situation, but, at the same time, all of the candles being lit up was a good way to end because it brought about a sense of hope that we’re improving and learning from this, and we’re moving on,” said Hitchcock. 

These exhibits fulfilled their purposes of inciting in people emotional thought and moral conviction.  The information that the displays shared is of critical importance to the shaping of humankind’s future, its ideologies, perceptions of morality, and governmental institutions.  The topic was a powerful one, and it showed. 

Sophomore Isabella Landriscina was one of those who grasped the importance of the situation completely.  

“It was a really sad trip, but I think it was important that we went,” she stated. 

Landriscina lighted upon what she considered most memorable, which was an exhibit in which the shoes of the dead were piled in a chaotic and haphazard manner. 

“Going there-seeing pictures and stories, especially all the shoes from the people who died; it really hits you how many horrible things happened,” she said. 

The impactful nature of the Holocaust museum’s exhibits imprinted upon its guests a wariness of malicious governmental institutions and left many visitors feeling sad, angry, and deeply reflective about the nature of human beings. 

Despite the palpable horror of the Holocaust museum’s exhibits, viewers also left with hope in their hearts and a hardened resolve to contribute positively to society. 

There are many lessons to be learned from the atrocities of the Holocaust, such as love for others and acceptance of others’ differences. 

It is always important to consider the past when thinking about the future, and to remain morally intact throughout all of life’s endeavors.  Arden Hitchcock put it best by saying: “Compassion towards other people is universally applicable.  There’s just so much hate and anger, and there’s so much to be upset about in this world, so the best thing we can do is support each other and try to learn from the past.” 

Ellie Dugan, Staff

Hi, my name's Ellie, and I'm a sophomore at CHS.  I like sports, food, music, and writing stories with (some) substance.

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Sophomores Visit Holocaust Museum