Students Commemorate the Holocaust Through Artwork


Award winners at the Garden of Remembrance in White Plains

Maggie choreographed and led a team of dancers in a moving interpretive performance to express overcoming traumatic experiences. Taylor created a poem and drawing about the passage of time in a concentration camp from a child's perspective. Samantha made her poem into a spoken word performance accompanied by an original music composition.

North Salem High School sophomores Maggie, Samantha, and Taylor won Fred Bachner Student Project Awards for their meaningful art projects about the Holocaust. After studying the Holocaust with World History teachers Alison Vara and Chris Regan, the students were invited to create art based on the human experiences they had learned about.

"We examine the impact of rhetoric and nationalism and the power of indoctrination. How did humanity allow this to happen?" said Vara. "What role do ordinary people play in being accountable to others in society? We discuss how society's collective job is to prevent atrocities."

North Salem student Samantha said, "Sometimes it's hard to understand the whole story, so reiterating it through the arts helps form connections on a personal level of the story. I like to express my thoughts through music and poetry as a way for me to form connections and explain them to other people."

Taylor said, "I wanted to do it through a student's perspective, about the time passing by and what was happening to them contrasted with what they wanted to be doing. I tried to bring awareness of this terrible thing that happened and how it should never happen again."

The North Salem and Somers communities gathered on April 20 to observe Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). The Somers Holocaust Memorial Commission hosts this annual event to commemorate the memory of the Holocaust, promote respect for human rights, and fight genocide, bigotry, and hatred.

This year's keynote speaker was Ruben Wind, who told the story of his parents meeting in Argentina following their escape from Germany. He shared insights on growing up with his parents as refugees from the Nazi regime.

The student award winners previously attended the Yom HaShoah Holocaust Commemoration presented by the Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center and Westchester Jewish Council. North Salem and Somers students lit memorial candles during the ceremony at the Garden of Remembrance in White Plains.

"It's really hard to talk about, but by talking about the Holocaust, hopefully, it will prevent something similar," said Samantha, who found reassurance in seeing the large crowd who attended the memorial event in support.

Watch Maggie's full dance performance on YouTube. 

Sarah Divi is the Communications Specialist for the North Salem Central School District. This article is part of an ongoing series of stories that showcase student experiences and exemplify the district's mission statement in action.

Poem written by Samantha
Representatives from Westchester synagogues hold rescued Holocaust torahs
Video still from Maggie's dance performance
Poem written by Taylor
Drawing by Taylor to illustrate her poem
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