Delving Into The Diary

Guest actor teaches students about the life of Holocaust victim Anne Frank.


Guest speaker Elizabeth Rainer talks to us about the Holocaust on zoom during study hall on November 12. (Mr. Crisafi)

Learning about the Holocaust is very important regardless of your religion. People teach it in different ways. This year, The Benjamin School had a guest speaker after showing the middle school students Through the Eyes of a Friend, a film by the historical performing arts organization, Living Voices, to teach the students more creatively than the year before. 

The film was about the perspective of a composite character, Sarah, who is Anne Frank’s friend during the Holocaust. It shows how Sarah and Anne go into hiding, leaving each other and reunite after being found by Nazis. 

The film was chosen by sixth grade history teacher Mrs. Ferguson and Head of Middle School Mr. Hagy. “We felt like Living Voices was most appropriate for the Benjamin School because of our [3 year] sequence on Holocaust studies,” said Head of Middle School Mr. Charles Hagy. “It really fits well with our curriculum,” said Hagy. 

Guest speaker Elizabeth Rainer shows students a map of Europe on Zoom during study hall on November 12. (Mr. Crisafi)

We remember the Holocaust at the Benjamin School for many reasons. One is for the life lesson. “The Holocaust and all the apostrophes that happened is a major life lesson to be learned at a young age. So we [students] apply what we learned to make the world a better place,” said eighth grade history teacher Mr. Rudolph DeVries. “I am glad that we did the activities,” said Mr. DeVries.

Learning about the Holocaust also affects many students in their everyday life. “Learning about the Holocaust impacts me in my everyday life because I know that when someone feels pain it may not be as bad as what some people had to experience during the Holocaust. It has also taught me to appreciate how lucky I am in my life” said eighth grader Gavin Venoff.

In addition, learning about the Holocaust is very important regardless of your religion. “If we don’t learn about the Holocaust or we don’t learn about other historic events. We can’t learn and grow as individuals or as a community,” said Mr. Charles Hagy. “We have great power as individuals to make this world a better place. We can bring great life and vitality by learning the lessons from the past,” said Hagy. 

The Holocaust did not affect everyone directly, but it is important to learn about it because it is a major part of our world history. “I think that it is a responsibility of human beings in today’s society to understand the Holocaust and the world around them,” said Mr. Rudolph DeVries. “We should learn about the different viewpoints around the world and major stuff around the world,” said DeVries. 

Ms. Rainer displays pictures and papers from the Holocaust during her presentation. (Mr. Crisafi)

Each student liked something different about how they learned about the Holocaust this academic school year. “It was cool, we were able to see what it was like to be one of Anne Frank’s friends,” said seventh grader Maddox Rakoczy.

After the film, we had a guest speaker, Elizabeth Rainer who answered many students’ questions about the film. Some of the questions were, “Was Sarah a real person?” which was answered with “No, she is a composite character,” Rainer said. By having their questions answered, the student’s understanding of the film became well-rounded from an expert’s point of view.  

The Holocaust is a very important topic and our students and teachers took this year to use different mediums to make sure the lessons of the past landed home. It is safe to say the message and importance of remembering the Holocaust are present at Benjamin.