By Alex Haglund
Every year, NCHS teacher Sara Kollbaum’s Honor’s English IV class has an outreach project meant to help educate the community. These projects tend to be centered around raising awareness of the Holocaust, genocides and other unspeakable events, in order to help prevent them happening again by informing people about them. In previous year’s, the class has invited speakers and presenters to the school and asked the community to come out to see them as well.
“This year we did a different route for the project than in the past,” said student Madison Frerker, “we chose to research individuals and their stories. They were people within the holocaust. They were resisters, rescuers, survivors, victims. We chose to share their stories – along the way, we kind of documented our research and how we did it.”
Frerker’s project contrasted the experience of Hans and Gertrud Oppenheim against that of her great grandparents, Lloyd and Mildred Hardesty. That story and fellow student Abbie Heseman’s story of survivor Helga Weiss’ holocaust experience were published on page A7 of the May 13, 2015 edition of the Nashville News.
Frerker and Heseman’s projects are just two out of the whole class though. The students did not just retell the stories, they ordered and collected them as well, and all of the stories are available online at http://passingthetorch.wix.com/witnesstheholocaust – a website produced and published by the English Honors IV students.
“We each individually did a research project,” said student Kelsie Klingenberg, “some did presentations, I made a website, others made posters or bookmarks. Everyone’s story is on the website, they each have their own page and we organized it by the individual that they did.”
One of those stories belongs to Max Garcia, and was told by student Nick Wolf.
Garcia’s family originally came to the Netherlands way back in the 1600s. “He started being persecuted in the Netherlands in 1943 when the Nazis occupied it. He was taken to Auschwitz.”
Wolf’s project was a Google presentation. “I shared it with my family and friends, just to spread the word,” said Wolf.
“The website has three sections,” Klingenberg stated, “Our Goal,” “Our Journey,” and “Your Mission.”
“Our goal said what our plan is, which is to share everyone else’s stories – our goal is to pass the torch,” Klingenberg said, and “Passing The Torch – Witnesses To The Holocaust” is the title of the project.
I am just glad that our students want to take the study of the Holocaust beyond the classroom,” said Kollbaum. “It’s all good and fine if we study the Holocaust in the classroom, but if we don’t take it and try to share that with others, take it and try to apply the lessons from that – it’s just not enough.”
“We want everyone else to share these stories so that they keep on living,” Klingenberg said. “Whether you share our website on Facebook or just tell a friend the story, that’s or goal, to keep it going, to keep it alive.”