On Wednesday, May 18, the Kent Place Upper School hosted three genocide survivors for a luncheon and panel discussion. The event was sponsored by the Upper School’s history department and their senior elective class, Decision, Consequence and Remembrance.

The panel, which included  Fran Malkin and Helen Paktor, who survived the Holocaust during World War II, and Eugenie Mukeshimana who lived through the Rwandan genocide, shared their heroic stories of suffering and survival. Prior to the discussion, Upper School history teacher Vanessa Giles Sheehan and her senior students shared a luncheon with the survivors.

Students in the Decision Consequence and Remembrance class began the year evaluating several infamous, influential leaders of the 20th century. The study culminated in a student critique of a current leader. Beginning in January, students explored the ideas of genocide, ethnic cleansing and terrorism. Students studied the Holocaust as the basis of genocide and examined, evaluated and debated genocides throughout history. Woven throughout the curriculum is the idea of remembrance, where students explore the concept of commemoration and its influence of how we understand past events through technology, the media and popular culture.

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Mrs. Giles Sheehan contacted the guests through the New Jersey Holocaust/Genocide Curriculum and the students followed up with personal invitations.

“This event was important so that people remember the tragedy of genocide and share the survivors’ stories with future generations so that we can prevent the next genocide from happening,” said Mrs. Giles Sheehan. “We have been studying genocide in class and having the survivors tell their stories in person was invaluable.”

For more information about Kent Place School curriculum, visit www.kentplace.org/academics.