by George J Elbaum Summit Preparatory Charter High School is one of seven Summit Public Schools serving 2000 students from the Bay Area’s diverse communities. Summit’s mission is to prepare its diverse student population for success in a four-year college or university, and to be thoughtful, contributing members of society. In fact, Summit students arrive at Summit schools with slightly lower scores than their peers at local high schools, yet consistently outperform their peers by ranking in the top 20% of public high schools in the state of California. Summit Preparatory Charter High School in Redwood City opened its doors in 2003 and quickly earned a reputation as one of the best public high schools in the nation, according to national rankings by Newsweek and US News & World Report. Summit’s academic approach has led to an impressive track record of success which speaks for itself: since its founding, 96 percent of Summit’s graduates have been accepted to at least one four-year college. My talk at the school was organized by teacher Lissa Schuman Thiele for her class in Holocaust and Genocide II: Children and Childhood, a 7-week course which she prepared as follow-on to her 2013-2014 course on the Holocaust. The current course attempts to answer the question “What did ‘childhood’ look like for the youth growing up under genocide?” through understanding the roots of violence, cruelty, race-hatred, and prejudice as manifested in the Holocaust.
Following my talk I received several short notes with the following heartfelt statements:
- Hearing your story truly gives me hope, because if you could get through such a rough childhood with a smile on your face, than I can too.
- Your story makes me think and be more thankful for everything.
- Your story was very inspirational and made me want to be a better person.
- I was so touched and so thankful that you were rescued in all those situations.
My presentation was attended by several other classes and followed by a Q&A with Ms. Thiele’s class. Katie Cook of Jewish Family and Children’s Services arranged for my talk.
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