Open Window School, Bellevue, WA – April 25, 2023

by George J Elbaum

Open WindowSchool  (OWS) is an independent school for students in Kindergarten through 8th grade who have been formally identified as intellectually gifted.  The school’s mission is to nurture and inspire students of high intellectual ability. Its current enrollment is 355 students, of which 140 students are in grades 5 thru 8.

My presentation was organized by humanities teacher Arren Ellingson for 41 7th graders. This study unit is designed for students to understand the causes of the Holocaust and explain the horrific events that occurred. Beginning with a study of the history of anti-Semitism in Europe, students come to understand how racism fueled the events to come. The students were provided a history of Germany after WWI, including how the Nazis came to power and Hitler’s racist ideology, how Jews were systematically targeted, the Nuremburg laws, Kristallnacht, life and death in ghettos, concentration camps, and Jewish life after liberation.  

The Q&A session following the talk showed the students’ preparation and genuine engagement – having so many students asking questions was an encouraging thing to witness.  Following the Q&A session teacher Ellingson informed me of their tradition that following presentations by visiting speakers the students are given an opportunity to comment and thank the speaker for what they learned from the presentation.  Several students took this opportunity, came to the microphone and individually expressed their “thank-you’s” – a very nice and gratifying tradition.   

This was my 2nd visit to OWS, the first one being exactly a year ago (4/22/2022).   Attending the current presentation in addition to teacher Arren Ellingson were also OWS teachers Michelle Bowers, Marcelo Sanjines and Clarissa Toupin.  My involvement was arranged by Lexi Jason, Education Program Manager, Holocaust Center for Humanity, with technical support from volunteer Liz Ebersole.   

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8 Responses to Open Window School, Bellevue, WA – April 25, 2023

  1. Olivia Chen says:

    Mr. Elbaum,

    My name is Olivia – I’m an 8th grader at OWS. Last year, your presentation moved me so much as to submit an art entry for the Holocaust Center for Humanity’s contest. This year, I asked to be able to come and listen to your presentation again, as I again am submitting for the contest, but in a different category (writing), and wanted to hear your story again. I was wondering if you would have the time or be interested in reading my entry, especially since it was your story that convinced me to enter.

    Thank you so much for telling us your story. It has truly been life changing for me.

    • gelbaum says:

      Thank you for your lovely message. I’ll be pleased to read your entry, so email it to me at, and send it from your regular email address rather than through my website – makes replying easier.
      My very best

      • Olivia Chen says:

        I have emailed it to that address. Let me know if you have received it, and if the link I sent is working.

      • George Elbaum says:

        Olivia Did you receive my yesterday’s message with additions to 2 of your sentences (No. 5 & 6)?George

  2. gelbaum says:

    I did receive your “Dear Legislators” text, think it’s very good & powerful, and suggest additions to your 5th & 6th sentences which I just emailed to you 15-20 min. ago. Did you receive this email?

    • Olivia Chen says:

      Yes, I now see it – thank you very much! I don’t believe I received an email from before today, however. It shows that it was sent at 4:25pm, PST today.

  3. gelbaum says:

    That is my 2nd attempt through the website. Th previous day I sent it to the email address at end of your initial (4/29/2023) Comment.

    • Olivia Chen says:

      Yes, you have the right email address. Could you try sending from a different email? It seems that the website is not sending correctly.

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