By: Sharon Aron Baron
The luncheon they carefully planned may have been held the day after Holocaust Remembrance Day, but for students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, they pay tribute year-round in their History of the Holocaust class.
Students worked hard putting together the luncheon held at the Tamarac Community Center for members of a generation who are mostly in their 80’s and 90’s. Several came with their aides, with a friend or spouse, wheelchairs or walkers. And then there was Joseph Tropauer, 90, who had so much energy, he wanted to dance, sing, or lead the audience in a joke or two.
Besides serving lunch, the students in the class led by teachers Donna Amelkin and Ivy Schamis, assisted those that needed it, or sat and learned more about the lives of the survivors.
This was the first year that the high school would offer the History of the Holocaust class which is an approved elective through Principal Ty Thompson and Broward County Schools. Initially, the class which teaches history and literature about the Holocaust, was open to both juniors and seniors, but Amelkin said they had to close it off to just seniors because there were too many students that signed up.
“Today was very wonderful, and I saw my kids have nice conversations,” said Amelkin. “The students saw that many survivors ended up having wonderful lives despite the horror they went through.” Amelkin believes it’s also important as well, for the survivors to interact with the students so that their history lives on.
The History of the Holocaust class is split into two parts with Amelkin teaching literature and Schamis teaching the history portion. Amelkin said they are currently reading the true story about a Christian girl who saved Jewish people in the Holocaust. “I may assign different books next year,” she said.
The students in the class planned Friday’s luncheon and even sold candy to raise money to fund it.
“We have been working with Jewish Family Services in Plantation and the students would deliver food for them, and call Holocaust survivors to check on them and so they asked us last fall if we could plan an event for them.“
Next year, the class is filled up once more said Amelkin. “This class is about opening your eyes to being a better human being and hopefully they will take away from them that it’s not ok to be a bystander.”