Oxbridge Academy students reinforced what they learned from their summer reading assignments by hearing first-hand accounts from a Holocaust survivor and by virtually “touring” Auschwitz and Birkenau, two of the most infamous concentration camps where the death toll included almost one million Jews. This was part of the school’s Annual Summer Reading Day and done in partnership with the Jewish Student Union and Southern NCSY.
Each year, Oxbridge students take a day to dive deeply into the subjects of the books assigned to students for summer reading. This summer’s reading selections, which were chosen by a committee of students, included The Book Thief by Markus Zusak for middle school students, and Night by Elie Wiesel and The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris for upper school students.
Manny Gurowski, 90, shared his remarkable survival story with the students, telling them about his experiences as a child of being banished from school because he was a Jew, hiding in basements, being confined with his family to a ghetto and forced to do slave labor, risking his life to trade soap for bread to care for his sick sister and share with others, and learning how to read from scraps of newspapers. Remarkably, his family all survived and were reunited following liberation and eventually came to America. Gurowski is the father of Oxbridge faculty member Shari Amour-Ouellette.
The Jewish Student Union and Southern NCSY helped facilitate the guest speaker and virtual tour as part of their Holocaust education efforts to fight anti-Semitism, enabling students to learn about the Nazi concentration and extermination camps during World War II, and educating them about the horrors of the Holocaust.
“We feel it is important for our students to do more than simply read a book over the summer,” Head of School Ralph Maurer said. “We want them to have experiences that will provide a more in-depth understanding and appreciation for what they have read, to lead them to think deeper about these issues and how they impact our world today and into the future.”
“Through our JSU program, Southern NCSY is committed to enhance Holocaust education and inspire a meaningful dialogue amongst teens,” said Evan Levitt, vice president of special projects and planned giving at Southern NCSY. “More than 2,000 teens have participated in our virtual tour of Auschwitz, and in the year ahead we plan to engage more than 15,000 through our Hate Ends Now tour.”
The Oxbridge Academy is a private college preparatory school entering its second decade of providing an outstanding education to students in grades 7 through 12. For more information, visit www.oapb.org or call (561) 972-9600.