Posted in Colchester High School, General, Student Spotlight

Firsthand Accounts of History

As in years past, Colchester High School students in Jim Price’s AP European History class recently met with honored guests.

Holocaust survivors Gabe Hartstein, Simon Barenbaum, and Manny Gurowski were recent guest speakers in the class.

Mr. Hartstein—a native of Budapest, Hungary, who was seven years old when the Nazis invaded his homeland in 1944—has been sharing his personal story and historical accounts of his experience in schools, churches, and synagogues throughout Vermont for more than fifteen years as a way to remember all who were affected by the Holocaust—the many millions of those persecuted as well as all of those who rescued others even at great peril to themselves.

Mr. Barenbaum has been sharing his experiences at Colchester High School for more than twelve years. He was fourteen years old when the Nazis invaded and occupied his native France. His incredible story includes—among other things—becoming the first French underground contact for the American forces (eventually resulting in a monument in his honor).

CHS student Ian Flores and Mr. Barenbaum
CHS student Ian Flores and Mr. Barenbaum
CHS student Mariah Noth and Mr. Barenbaum
CHS student Mariah Noth and Mr. Barenbaum.

Stories about the guests have been published in The Holocaust Personal Accounts by the Center of Holocaust Studies at the University of Vermont.

“These are incredibly important visits,” Mr. Price said. “Our current students are the last ones to hear stories from that generation.”

Such opportunities are not unusual for our students. In April 2012, students in CHS teacher Erin Brady’s Advanced Placement US History class met with two area residents to learn about the residents’ experiences during World War II (if you missed our CSD Spotlight article about it, you can read it here).

Creating opportunities for students to meet people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds allows them to develop appreciation, insight, and understanding of others, encouraging respect for differences and building positive connections. It also often helps students to gain a greater appreciation for their own opportunities; many see the importance of their education in a new light, and this has a lasting and meaningful impact not only upon the students but upon society. Community engagement, collaboration, and multigenerational learning partnerships of this nature foster the vision our community members created and affirmed through the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017.

If you would like more information about these guest speakers’ presentations, please call CHS at (802) 264-5700.

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