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Middle School Students Host Holocaust Remembrance Day

Activities Honor the Past and Raise Awareness of Global Genocide and Hate Crimes

April 25, 2006

In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 25, students in Packer’s 8th Grade organized tolerance and anti-hate crime workshops, as well as a panel of international experts on the growing crisis in the Darfur region of the Sudan.

“This was a student-led, student-organized event,” said Byron Thomas, 7th and 8th grade US History teacher. Both of Mr. Thomas’s 8th Grade history classes hosted this event as the culmination of their recent studies of the Holocaust. The students dedicated the day to Auschwitz survivor Francis Irwin, who had visited the 8th Grade classes and urged them to take action to raise awareness about Darfur.

Darfur panel speakers included Gerry Martone (below, left), Emergency Response Director from the International Rescue Committee; Kate Crowley, Darfur Coordinator for the American Jewish World Service; Blanche Foster (below, right), Executive Director of the Darfur Rehabilitation Project; Rahama Dafalla (above, left), Executive Director, Darfur People’s Association of New York, and Abdelbagy Abushanab (above, right), President of the Darfur Rehabilitation Project. Anya Cordell, a Chicago-based peace activist and tolerance educator, led the tolerance and anti-hate crime workshops.

“There are thousands of people in these refugee camps — children just like yourselves,” Mrs. Foster told the assembled Middle Schoolers, “but their condition is so far removed from these beautiful streets where you live.”

“The war could stop tomorrow if the international community decides to disarm the Janjaweed,” said Mr. Abushanab, “but to rebuild this country will take a long, long time.”

Along with wristbands and lapel stickers, student organizers also distributed letters addressed to governmental leaders in Washington, urging them to examine the crisis in Darfur.

“This day sends a strong and powerful message to us all, to see young people devoting weeks of planning to inform their peers about this kind of violence and hatred, and providing tangible options to take action,” said Byron Thomas.

Prior to the event, student organizer Elizabeth Douglass ’10 said: “This day will be an interesting and meaningful experience. Everyone will come out of the day with a better understanding of such a serious topic, will be sure to remember it, and take action.”



Student organizers sell awareness-raising wristbands and ribbons and distribute letters for lawmakers.




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