Commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day in Our Middle Schools
On January 27, 2023, Bell and Seven Bridges Middle Schools held a special advisory to recognize and learn about International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This date commemorates the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1945.
This extended Advisory period focused on Holocaust education and antisemitism with the goal of building a foundation of understanding and awareness. Each grade engaged in a different activity. Below, find an overview of the events at each grade level.
Students viewed the Documentary The Number on Great Grandpa’s Arm featuring a conversation between 10 year old Elliott Saiontz and his great grandfather Jack Feldman, a Holocaust survivor. The film has a meaningful connection for the Chappaqua community: Elliott is currently a junior at Horace Greeley and presents the film to schools across the country. Students were then asked to write, draw or record their thoughts in a journal reflection and participated in a Q&A session with Elliott’s brother Jared Saiontz, who is a freshman at HGHS.
Sixth-graders first reflected on what they remembered from watching the HBO documentary last year. Then they learned more about upstanders through a read aloud of The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco. The book is set during the Nazi occupation of France, when Monique's mother hides a Jewish family in her basement and tries to help them escape to freedom. Next, students designed a butterfly to represent themes from the book and what they’ve learned about the Holocaust and the resistance movement. They included words or acts of kindness and shared how they could help create a community of tolerance for all.
In seventh grade, students participated in a read aloud and discussion of the short story Terrible Things by Eve Bunting before analyzing the poem “First They Came” by Pastor Martin Niemöller. Students then collaborated in small groups to write a short poem or script a role-playing scenario based on the theme, “How To Be An Upstander,” which were then presented to the class.
Eighth graders conducted a deep dive into trends and impacts of online hate and antisemitism. Using Big Paper Protocol, students rotated through stations analyzing data points from the ADL’s report, Online Hate and Harassment: The American Experience. This led to compelling small-group discussions and ideas for what people can do to combat online hate.
“Our Bell and Seven Bridges students and staff engaged in profound work for International Holocaust Remembrance day,” said Geoff Curtis, Principal of Robert E. Bell Middle School. “I saw classes listening to stories, interacting with guest speakers, and participating in other activities designed to increase awareness and acknowledge this day of commemoration.”