by George J Elbaum
Lexington High School, with approximately 2000 students, has included for many years an elective course in “Facing History: The Holocaust and Other Genocides”. Now taught by Katie DeWitt, the students examine the roots of hate and acts of hatred to understand genocide as a sequence of events resulting from individual actions and decisions through time: how these atrocities began and what role “ordinary” citizens had in these. By also examining genocides in Rwanda, Cambodia and Armenia, students can reflect not only on the universality of racism and social injustice but also on the importance of global awareness and activism. Students therefore review the reactions of other countries, especially the United States, to these genocides and their own roles and responsibilities as American and global citizens, stressing the potential for wide-reaching impact that every individual has daily. One of the initial instructions that Ms. DeWitt gives to her students is “to come to class with an open mind and a willingness to share your unique point of view.” My presentation was arranged by Judi Bohn of Facing History and Ourselves and attended by approximately 50 students, juniors and seniors, who asked some very penetrating and personal questions (see Student Questions).