I had the gratifying experience today and yesterday visiting with students and teachers at the Franklin County community high school. I was invited by Mrs. Howze-Jones to talk with some of classes who are studying the Holocaust, and particularly Kristallnacht, whose 75th commemoration is currently taking place.
The Holocaust Education Organization in Tallahassee is sponsoring an essay contest for middle and high school students for all of the eastern Panhandle schools, and Mrs. Howze-Jones is trying to encourage some of her students to enter, hence her interest in teaching the Holocaust, and genocide. I was privileged to visit Lydia Countryman's class last May, and that also was a very satisfying experience.
First of all, I feel a responsibility to expose today's young people to this great human tragedy, before it is erased from our consciousness by the passing of time. So I was so appreciative of the responses from the teachers and students. I spoke with four classes yesterday and today. The students were bright, inquisitive, very involved, and highly motivated. Few had met Jews, and knew little about Judaism, the Jewish people, Jewish history, and the Holocaust. Their questions and comments were thoughtful, caring, and deeply motivated. These young people seemed so ripe for intellectual challenge, and learning about the significant issues of our times, socially, politically, economically, etc.
I was impressed with the open and caring relationship between students and teachers, and the commitment expressed by the teachers to expose these young people to the best that education can provide. I was quite honestly pleasantly surprised by the caliber of teachers and students, given all the negative publicity in the community, and the fact of the D rating.
Whatever investment from the county to challenge and support these youngsters to strive and reach their potentials is well worth it. They are too precious a future resource to not do whatever is necessary to make this school excellent. The committed faculty and students deserve nothing less.