Lakeside School, Seattle, WA – October 30, 2020

by George J Elbaum

Lakeside School is a private school for grades 5-12 with a current enrollment of 838 students with a very strong focus on quality education as reflected by its student-to-teacher ratio of 9:1 vs. a national average of 17:1.  As a result, the 2021 NICHE school ranking rates Lakeside as #1 Best Private high school in Washington, also #1 in STEM and #1 in College Prep.  To earn these rankings, NICHE rates Lakeside A+ in Academics, Teachers, College Prep and Clubs & Activities, and A in Sports and Diversity.  As such, majority of its courses meet or exceed the rigor and depth of the AP curriculum.  In addition to academic requirements, Lakeside also requires of students a minimum of 80 hours social service (which typically is almost doubled by most), and participation in one week of Outdoor Education. 

My talk was attended by some 20 students, mostly seniors, enrolled in an elective course entitled “Genocide in the Modern World” taught by History teacher James Nau, who organized the event.  The students have recently concluded a unit of work on the Holocaust, reading Elie Wiesel’s Night and doing a project using interviews from the book Frauen: German Women Recall the Third Reich. This was supported by other coursework around Nazism, historical context, and some discussion of related current events.  Since finishing that first unit, students viewed a film about Cambodian genocide (First They Killed My Father) and will soon begin work on the Rwanda genocide.  The students’ questions impressed me by their perceptiveness, one of which had never been asked of me before, and another one had been asked only once in my 270+ talks.

Arrangements for my talk were made by Julia Thompson, Education Resource Coordinator, Holocaust Center for Humanity

Letters from students

A week after my Zoom “visit” to Lakeside, teacher James Lau forwarded to me several Thank You emails from the students.  I was deeply touched by these, especially some of the statements therein, and I have excerpted these and listed them below.  For your emails and these statements I thank you!

–Throughout this Genocide course I’ve felt my faith in humanity get buried beneath every statistic, every story, and every crime.  However, your story was different.  Although it began with the horrors you and your relatives experienced, I felt that it ended with hope, a concept that I didn’t think I would find in this class.  Your talk was one of the first times I’ve left class feeling inspired, and I know I’ll carry some of your words with me for the rest of my life.

–Your story is one that will stay with me forever, and I will never forget the beauty in your words and the power in your message.

–For me, your talk was inspirational.  Even though I obviously wasn’t involved in the Holocaust, the themes of perseverance, belief, and hope in your talk really spoke to me.  I am extremely grateful to have heard your talk and to have heard your story.

–While reading about genocide is one thing, being able to talk to someone who has lived through it makes it so much more real.

–Please keep telling your story as there are so many in this world who need to hear it, especially the younger generation.

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