by George J Elbaum
Otay Ranch High School is a 4-year high school with somewhat unusual demographics: its 2372 student body is comprised of 59% Hispanic, 18% Filipino, 8% two or more races, 6% White, 5% Black, and 4% Asian. Nevertheless, it has Great Schools Rating of 8/10 overall, College Readiness rating of 9/10, Equity 7/10, and Test Scores 8/10. Its 4-year high school graduation rate is 97% vs. California state avg of 85%, and the percentage of graduates who meet UC/CSU entrance requirements is 65% vs CA state avg of 51%, and low-income (34% of students) are not far behind with 59% vs CA State avg is only 43%. This is a remarkable academic performance.
My presentation was organized by World History Teacher Robert Tilburg whose 10th grade class studied WW2 and included events prior to 1939 that discriminated against the Jewish population of Germany such as the Nuremberg race laws, Kristallnacht etc. The students then studied the Holocaust for 3 weeks, including the flood of refugees to surrounding countries and the response of those countries, the establishments of Jewish ghettos and then the “Final Solution”. Subsequent to my talk the students will analyze primary source text and images from the Holocaust and will also work on a research presentation in one of two areas: Jewish resistance to the Holocaust, or comparison of the Holocaust to other events of genocide in the world. In addition to Robert Tilburg’s 10th graders my presentation was also attended by teachers Patti Heredia and Allie Sanders with their classes.
The credit for introducing Robert Tilburg and me, and “incubating” this introduction into a successful presentation goes to Kael Sagheer, Education Coordinator of the Institute for Holocaust Education (IHE) of Omaha, who recently organized my presentation at IHE’s Week of Understanding.