Education

Watchung Hills High School Students Visit the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

9f3b8ce66cf90ab1ce71_image.jpg
Natasha Yankaskas, left, of Millington, was among the 20 students in the college-level honors section of the Holocaust & Genocide Honors class, taught at Watchung Hills Regional High School by Social Studies teacher Ryan Murray, right, who traveled on Thursday, Oct. 16, to the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Since 2010, Murray has incorporated the trip into the class curriculum. Several students described the experience as being both understandably “heavy” and “overwhelming,” but also helpful to the understanding about just how widespread was the intolerance against Jews under the Nazi regime in Germany and other countries in Europe leading up to and during World War II. Credits: Denis J. Kelly
9f3b8ce66cf90ab1ce71_image.jpg

WARREN, NJ – Twenty students in the elective, college-level honors section of the Holocaust & Genocide class at Watchung Hills Regional High School traveled to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Oct. 16, to meet a Holocaust survivor and get a better understanding of just how widespread the intolerance toward Jews under the Nazi regime in Germany and other countries in Europe before and during World War II. For more information about the Holocaust Memorial Museum, go to www.ushmm.org.

Students in the regular sections of the Holocaust & Genocide course augment their classroom studies with visits to the Museum of Jewish heritage in Battery Park City in downtown Manhattan, www.mjhnyc.org, and the Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center in Glen Cove in Nassau County, N.Y. And in the bus during the way down and back to Washington, D.C., the students viewed several films related to their Holocaust studies.

Likewise, this year’s fall dramatic production by the Script and Cue student theater group is “The Diary of Anne Frank.” It is about a Holocaust victim in Holland, who along with others eluded capture by the Nazis for two years by remaining hidden in a secret space in a building where her father worked. After the hiding place was discovered, and Frank was taken to the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp in Germany, and died there in 1945. The Diary of Anne Frank will be performed on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Nov. 20, 21 and 22, in the school’s Performing Arts Center.

Sign Up for E-News

The Holocaust and Genocide course at Watchung Hills has been taught since 2010 by Social Studies teacher Ryan Murray. Since 2010, the annual enrollment has grown to more than 150 students, and has been expanded to include a separate honors class which provides students with the opportunity to receive college credit in conjunction with the Kean University course, “Holocaust, Genocide, and Modern Humanities.” Murray, who has a master’s degree in Holocaust & Genocide Studies at Kean University, has worked on numerous school-wide initiatives such as guest speakers, class trips, fundraisers and programs to help foster genocide awareness. This is the fourth year Murray has brought his students to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and it was the 10th time he, himself, had visited the museum. “Every time, I see something more, something different that I hadn’t seen previously,” he said.

Every time, he walks away with something different, he said, but it never gets easier to see what the museum teaches. Among the students who went this year, Natasha Yankaskas of Millington, Nate DiBari of Warren Township, and Lauren Picone of Gillette, all said that while they while visiting the museum once is not enough to take in all it has to offer, and they would like to return some day to try to take in more of what they saw, still they would need to wait a period to let what they did see sink in. “It was heavy,” said Yankaskas. “It takes a heavy toll on you.” “It was overwhelming,” said DiBari. “I had been there before,” said Picone, “but everything there leaves a very heavy impact. More than what we hear about it in class. Yes, I would go back, but not right away. It is very intense.” Yankaskas, DiBari and Picone all agreed that the museum helped them to understand just how widespread the holocaust was.

Murray said classroom instruction for the course covers the history of anti-semitism and hatred against the Jews in Europe. It also covers the historic origins and conditions in Germany at the time of the rise of the Nazi regime in the decades between World War I and World War II. While the class covers the historical facts of the millions and millions of people, Jews and others, who were massacred during the Holocaust, Murray said the course makes a point of going far beyond the statistics. “The course talks about the individual human beings and families who were involved,” Murray said. “We meet survivors.”

At the Museum in Washington, the students were greeted by a woman known as “Helena,” who is a Holocaust survivor, Murray said. Like Anne Frank, she was hidden by “upstanders,” that is, people who take positive action in the face of injustice. In Helena’s case, she was hidden by assuming the identity of a Roman Catholic. Murray said this is an example of a theme that he covers in the Holocaust & Genocide class. “Events like the Holocaust shows the worst in humanity,” said Murray, “but it also shows the best. You can see the best in those people who helped survivors like Helena. They refused to give in. They refused to turn their backs.”

Murray said he has spoken to the cast of the Watchung Hills production of The Diary of Anne Frank, telling them that they are doing their part to make sure the story doesn’t go away. He told them it is everyone’s responsibility to fight prejudice and discrimination. In November 2011, Murray sponsored a month-long program at Watchung Hills aimed at genocide awareness and social action. The program included a traveling museum display honoring “upstanders” during the Holocaust, and concluded with a school-wide assembly featuring a Rwandan Genocide survivor and activist, Jacqueline Murekatete. That year, the Watchung Hills students raised more than $3,000 to help fund a humanitarian center in Rwanda. Now, the school often uses the concept, “be an upstander, not a bystander,” as a call to action to be more socially aware.

In April 2012, Murray was awarded the Jack Zaifman Humanitarian Award for his work in Holocaust education. One of Murray’s initiatives is to hopefully see the expansion of Holocaust education. It is currently only mandated by five states. In 2013, Murray was a key speaker at Kean University’s panel discussion about the state mandate on Holocaust education. Among the other speakers on the panel were former Gov. Tom Kean Sr. and Paul Winkler, executive director of the N.J. Commission on Holocaust & Genocide.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Warren

It’s Official: Closings, Cancellations and Postponements and No Call in Warren, Watchung Hills Sending Districts and North Plainfield

February 7, 2018

WARREN, NJ - School is open on Wednesday, Feb. 7. The Watchung Hills girls basketball game scheduled against Phillipsburg on Wednesday has been postponed since Phillipsburg has called a snow day. 

In anticipation of inclement weather, the following senior centers operated by the Somerset County Office on Aging and Disability Services will be closed Wednesday, ...

Warrenbrook Senior Center Closes in Anticipation of Storm, No Meals on Wheels

WARREN, NJ - In anticipation of inclement weather, the following senior centers operated by the Somerset County Office on Aging and Disability Services will be closed Wednesday, Feb. 7: Hillsborough, Montgomery, Quail Brook, Warrenbrook and the Senior Wellness Centers in Bernards and Bridgewater.

There will be no Meals on Wheels deliveries on ...

A Celebration of Black History- Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future in North Plainfield

February 15, 2018

Councilwoman Keiona R. Miller will host the 2nd Annual North Plainfield Community Black History Month Event: ‘A Celebration of Black History.’

KEYNOTE SPEAKER:  The Honorable Ronald L.  Rice, New Jersey State Senator and Chair of the New Jersey State Legislative Black Caucus.

SPECIAL ...

Watchung Student and Team Take Second in State CyberPatriot Competition

NEW JERSEY -- Three students from Scotch Plains-Fanwood -- along with others from Watchung, Edison, and Maplewood -- successfully completed the CyberPatriot (Cyber Defense) competition.

Anushka Kumar, of Watchung, is a sophomore at Watchung Hills Regional High School.

The students were  comprised of two teams: 1) high school students and 2) ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_2e2e4830042112095f66_94f09724857a937db1ac_d6404e0a-7afd-4279-b56f-19b0f9b2138c

Sun, February 25, 10:00 AM

Camp Riverbend, Warren

Camp Riverbend Open House

Tue, March 13, 9:30 AM

Congregation Beth Israel , Scotch Plains

Crisis listening line volunteer listening and ...

Education Giving Back Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_ad6c3c447b5accf3e1a1_3ef0aae34bda175becfa_ptp_save_the_date_-_p1

Fri, March 16, 7:00 PM

The Grove, Cedar Grove

Susan G. Komen North Jersey

Giving Back Other

Obituaries

South Plainfield – Joanne Gallo, 68, of Palm Beach Gardens, FL and Warren, NJ, passed away ...
Read more

Low-Income Families Who Need Safe Cribs Have Nowhere to Go

February 16, 2018

One recent email came from a pastor in East Orange, sharing the struggles of a young couple who have no safe place for their baby to sleep.

Then, there was also a phone call from a Newark hospital, making its fourth request in two years, as well as a frantic text from Puerto Rico, for a family who lost everything in the hurricane.

They all pleaded for the same thing: A safe crib for a ...

WHRHS Girls Basketball: Watchung Hills Tops East Orange, 44-40

February 12, 2018

EAST ORANGE, NJ - Julia Cunningham recorded a double-double for Watchung Hills with 21 points, 16 rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block to lead the Watchung Hills girls basketball team over East Orange on Monday, 44-40. 

Jayden Baltuch finished with seven points, four assists and one rebound. 

Watchung Hills is now 19-1 on the season and next plays at Newark ...

WHRHS Boys Basketball: Watchung Hills Routs Somerville, 82-54

WARREN, NJ -  Six Warriors scored in the double digits to lead the Watchung Hills boys basketball game over Somerville on Saturday, 82-54.

Mike Hopwood led Watchung Hills with 17 points, Dan Pilsbury added 14 points and eight rebounds, Steven Bressler sunk 15 points, Gavin DeFuria added 13 points, Micheal Bressler got 11 points and 10 assists and Chad Martini chipped in 10 points and ...

Somerset County Preparing for Construction of Finderne Avenue Bridge, Beginning Feb. 20

February 16, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Finderne Avenue bridge, between Union Avenue and Foothill Road, will be under construction from Feb. 20 for about nine months, according to a release from Somerset County.

The bridge will be constructed in three separate stages, with one lane northbound and one lane southbound being maintained, aside from intermittent single-day closures as required. In addition, ...

Bernards Police Locate Body of Missing Township Teen

BERNARDS TWP., NJ -  Bernards Township Police announced late Thursday afternoon that the body of a 19-year-old township resident, Lydia Comtois, had been located in a wooded area of Liberty Corner following a search by personnel and volunteers from numerous public safety organizations. 

A preliminary investigation indicated the young woman's death was not deemed to ...

SCBP Names Somerset County's Outstanding Citizen

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Somerset County Business Partnership (SCBP) has selected Alina V. Klein, vice president and senior consultant for Merrill Lynch Wealth Management in Bedminster as the 68th Somerset County Outstanding Citizen.

The Outstanding Citizen award recognizes a single person for their community and professional activities that have contributed to making Somerset County a special ...

SCLSNJ’s North Plainfield Memorial Library Branch Main Level to Close for Renovations

NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The main level of SCLSNJ’s North Plainfield Memorial Library will be closed to patrons February 12 through March 3 for renovations. The lower level of the branch, also known as the children's area, will remain open to the public.

“This is the first phase in an effort to create a more welcome and modern library space for our patrons,” ...

From the New York Toy Fair - Travels Reveals the Toys That Will Make You the Star of Your Child’s Life - the Oscars of the Toy World - the TOTY Awards

February 19, 2018

 As you know, we are here to encourage you to travel.  Unfortunately, the New York Toy Fair is one place virtually none of you can go.  So, unless you have been tirelessly been searching the internet, you are not up to date on what toys your children will be wanting soon.

Fortunately, with Press Correspondent credentials, we were able to go in your place.

Our ...

Coast Guard Ends Search for Fishermen Lost at Sea, Fund Established to Help Family

The U.S. Coast Guard has officially ended its search for the two crew members of the fishing boat that went missing off the coast of Barnegat Light during the early morning hours of February 8.  

“We would like to extend our condolences to the families and the fishing community affected by this tragic incident,” said Capt. Scott Anderson, commander of the Coast Guard's ...

Looking for Something to Do? Weekend Events in Somerset County

Things to do in Somerset County

A weekend celebrating Warmer Days!

1. Winter Market, Duke Farms

2. The Mountaintop, Theatre at RVCC - Friday featuring the Peking Acrobats.

3. State Theatre New Jersey - nothing scheduled this weekend - next show Feb 22 

4. Heritage Trail Association - Five Generals House Bus Tour - ...

Coast Guard Ends Search for Fishermen Lost at Sea, Fund Established to Help Family

February 18, 2018

The U.S. Coast Guard has officially ended its search for the two crew members of the fishing boat that went missing off the coast of Barnegat Light during the early morning hours of February 8.  

“We would like to extend our condolences to the families and the fishing community affected by this tragic incident,” said Capt. Scott Anderson, commander of the Coast Guard's ...

Third Annual Long Beach Island Job Fair Set for Saturday, March 31

SURF CITY, NJ - Need a job this summer? Look no further. Shore Fire Grille again has teamed up with local businesses in the area for a special summer 2018 Job Fair event. 

The Third Annual LBI Job Fair will take place Saturday, March 31.  Employers will be looking to hire help for the summer season on busy Long Beach Island.  The event will be held at the Surf City Yacht ...

Guest Column: The Great "Wait" of the College Process

February 14, 2018

"The Great Wait" of the College Application Process

For all the high school seniors and their parents, we are in the stressful "waiting period".  We've just finished or are finishing applications to all the schools we might possibly want to attend next year and now sit and wait our fate after the $60-$80 non-refundable application fees to at least 8-13 schools and ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...