New London-Spicer High School, New London, MN – November 10, 2022

New London-Spicer High School (NLSHS) is part of the New London-Spicer School District which has enrollment of approximately 1600 K-12 students of which the high school’s 9-12 enrollment is approximately 600 students.  The 2 towns are approximately t0 miles apart in an area of rolling hills and large lakes with an economy based on agriculture plus white collar employment (community college, hospital, several clinics) plus a surprisingly artsy community.  The school district is considered to have high quality education (92% of high school students continue to college) and is also a powerhouse in athletics (2 recent NFL players, many state titles, and the winningest coach in girls’ basketball!)

My presentation was held in the school’s large, state-of-the-art auditorium (see photo below) to an audience of approximately 120 students (mostly Juniors) plus a few adults, and was organized by teacher Abigail Duly (English College Literature & Composition) who was introduced to me by my wife’s high school classmate.  As is often the case, starting students to ask questions in the Q&A is not easy when the audience is large and the NLSHS students were no different, but we did get the questions flowing eventually and had productive Q&A session.

Student Notes

A couple weeks after my visit to New London-Spicer HS I received by mail a large flat envelope containing several dozen Thank You notes from the students, a lovely note from teacher Abigail Duly and the school’s Wildcat T-shirt.  As has been our habit on receiving student notes & letters after my talks, my wife Mimi read each note aloud while I listened and absorbed it, and we excerpted those phrases/sentences that resonated with us and added them to the webpost – below. 

  • I like how you said that it’s up to our generation to make sure something like the Holocaust doesn’t happen again.  This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you gave us.
  • I will do my part and stand up against any type of discrimination.
  • You have done more for us by telling us your story than you could imagine.  You taught us more about the Holocaust than any school could.
  • I’m very happy that you survived – a person is immortal if their story continues on.
  • I really appreciate your essay at the end to not dwell on the past and not to focus on the future.
  • Hearing you talk about how you don’t look forward to things stuck with me because I know it can be tiring to find something to look forward to all the time.  That is why recently I’ve only been taking things one at a time.
  • I found what you said about life to be most impactful, such as you won’t get anywhere in life by going against change all the time – you must go with it.
  • I think it’s safe to say that I speak for everyone by saying that you gave us all a whole different perspective on life, and to never take anything for granted.
  • I was always told to follow the golden rule as I was growing up, but I never fully understood the true impact it could have.
  • I hope that you get all the happiness and relaxation in the world after the world’s awful start to your life.
  • Your dedication to follow your dream has inspired me a great deal to follow my own.
  • I won’t forget what you told us about the golden rule.  I wish everyone could treat others with respect.
  • You were able to tell us things no one else could.
  • Your story showed us that we can overcome even the hardest of conditions.  The fact that you not only survived but that you thrived afterwards was inspiring.
  • I thought that I had been through a lot for my age but hearing everything you went through helped shed some light to my perspective on life.
  • Your story really moved me to appreciate how lucky and fortunate I am to have the life I do have.  I couldn’t imagine how much different I would be if I went through the unfortunate circumstances you went through.
  • I find it absolutely astonishing that despite the harsh treatment you faced, you still choose to show kindness to everyone.
  • What really interested me was that most people didn’t want to write their story.
  • Sharing your story with the world is such a vulnerable thing to do, but I believe you are shaping the next generation(s) to never allow this to happen again.
  • I truly believe you escaped death so many times in your life so you could go on to make an impact on so many people.
  • Your story made we want to stand up to prejudice and stand up for others.
  • I really noticed how you did not hate.  You don’t, but you easily could.  You showed that you should never hate.  That is truly an amazing lesson to get to know.
  • You have made a huge impact on so many people and we all thank you for sharing your story.
  • You have made the situation so much more clear and sincere to each and every one of us.
  • Thank you for showing us what true bravery looks like.  It means the world.
  • I can only imagine how hard it must be to share such a traumatic experience.
  • Thank you for helping me become more aware of the world around me.
  • I thought it was very interesting how you’ve had a lifelong passion for flying, but the aircraft you saw as a child was a Nazi plane.  I’m glad that the evil of the Nazis didn’t ruin your passion.
  •  I wanted to thank you for wishing our football team luck at the upcoming game, because I truly believe you’re the reason we made it to the U.S. Bank Stadium this Saturday. 😊

About gelbaum

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