RACINE — Two high school students, Logan and Cade, have the courage to stand up for what’s right after a favorite teacher assigned a project focusing on the Holocaust and Hitler’s “Final Solution.” Students and teachers had riveting discussions during a remote Google Meet Nov. 11, hosted by Charlene Harteau, Horlick High School librarian, with Liza Weimer, author of “The Assignment.”
School Library Journal called “The Assignment” “an important look at a critical moment in history through a modern lens showcasing the power of student activism.”
This novel centers on social justice, a most timely and ultimately critical issue. Weimer was passionate about answering a probing question by Horlick math teacher, Albana Kume Robertson: “Do you feel that there is still some more work to do with high school students about the Holocaust theme? If yes, how? What needs to be done?”
Students asked her if she had any reservations writing about such a difficult and controversial topic? Weimer said that when she was younger it was difficult and she was vulnerable but as she has grown older, she has changed in terms of self-growth. She uses her personal experiences to shape how she responds. Weimer, who shared her Jewish background, fervently believes we cannot forget the Holocaust. In her travels she consistently questions people she meets and states that many have never even heard the word. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in a U.S. survey about the Holocaust, respondents in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Massachusetts ranked highest in Holocaust knowledge.
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“It was a fascinating touching presentation,” said David Venne, Horlick instructional coach. Weimer covered Holocaust history and focused on writing skills. “Even though I am retired (RUSD), I found myself taking notes and writing down helpful ways to look at writing including the building of characters, setting and background,” voiced Susan Barbee.
“I want to hear more from her, she was so inspiring,” said Dana Marcinkus of Horlick. “She had wonderful writing prompts for teachers and budding writers. I teach writing and hearing from writers is a great way to get students to better understand the power of language.”
“There is a lot more that goes into writing novels than I thought,” remarked Ayanna Jorganson, a Horlick junior. “I thought authors just wrote things down that came into their heads, but I learned that there is a lot of research involved even in fiction books.”
All students who attended the Google Meet will receive the book. Funding for student copies of the book is supported by the Racine A∆K (ADK) Educators Sorority. Josephine Weisensel, a Horlick junior, is “so looking forward to reading it.” Theresa Jakala, a Jerstad reading teacher, “would love to read a spin off novel with Lt. Peter Franklins and his backstory.”
There was a universal “yes” to the question, “Would you like to have another presentation?” Another Google Meet will be set up with Weimer who will continue to explore Holocaust history and delve more deeply into the writing craft.