Hundreds of middle and high school students from throughout the state gathered on the Chapman University campus Friday, March 4, to attend the 12th Annual Holocaust Art and Writing Contest Awards Ceremony and Reception. Each was anxious to hear who the winners were of the prestigious contest that is one of the hallmarks of The Rodgers Center.
Keynote speaker Idele Stapholtz assured the overflow crowd at Memorial Hall that every participant was a winner. Stapholtz, a Holocaust survivor and witness of Kristallnacht, commended the students for becoming the next generation of witnesses by entering the contest.
“You chose to hear and listen to our stories. Because you allowed yourselves to feel our stories, you are truly a witness today, and you will be our heroes tomorrow. Because of you, the naysayers of the Holocaust will not prevail. And because of you, “never again” will one day become reality,” Stapholtz said. “You have heard that bullying, be it at home, in the school, in the mall, or certainly on Facebook, is never, never OK. I know you will never be a bystander. And thanks to you, the world will become a safer place than the one I was born into.”
Friday’s ceremony honors winners and all participants in the contest, which challenges students to view at least one full-length video testimony of a survivor and then create prose, poetry or art expressing or interpreting the experience. The contest is supported by a grant from the Samueli Foundation and a gift from Yossie and Dana Hollander and is co-sponsored by the “1939” Club, one of the most active Holocaust survivor organizations in the world. The group is involved in many programs, but Chapman’s art and writing contest is its “crown jewel,” said William Elperin, president of the organization.
Among the many other special guests attending were Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, Congressman Ed Royce and Leon Weinstein, 100, who fought in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and received a standing ovation from the audience.
Following the ceremony students and their guests were treated to a celebration lunch and presented with a The Holocaust Chronicle, an anthology of all participant entries printed in a hardcover edition donated by Publications International, Ltd.
A record number of 111 schools from throughout California participated in this year’s contest. First prize winners included:
Art, High School Division
Katy Brannigan, 11th Grade
Trabuco Hills High School, Mission Viejo
Teacher: Barbara Gard
Survivor Testimony: Elly Kamm
Art, Middle School Division
Connecting the Pieces – Past and Present
Lisa Cho, 7th Grade
Acaciawood College Preparatory Academy, Anaheim
Teacher: Noemi Quiñones-Rosado
Survivor Testimony: Barry Bruk
Poetry, High School Division
Sonali Toppur, 10th Grade
Mission San Jose High School, Fremont
Teacher: Katherine Geers
Survivor Testimony: Eva Safferman
Middle School Poetry
Would I Have Done What You Did?
Natalie Larson, 8th Grade
Tuffree Middle School, Placentia
Teacher: Rosanna Brichta
Survivor Testimony: Zelda Gordon
Prose, High School Division
Victoria Moyzis, 10th Grade
JSerra Catholic High School, San Juan Capistrano
Teacher: Eileen McKeagney
Survivor Testimony: Sally Roisman
Prose, Middle School Division
Jennifer Parra, 8th Grade
Perry Lindsey International Studies Magnet, Long Beach
Teacher: Jessica Kane
Survivor Testimony: Milton Belfer