Nov. 13, 2018 -- Hate and hope: two opposing but overlapping forces that have taken hold of our national psyche. Hate and hope were the dominant themes that 42 Heights High students confronted when they visited Washington D.C. on November 5 and 6. Election Day, November 6, was a day off for the students but they elected to participate in the field trip.
Students in Mark Sack’s Lessons of the Holocaust class, members of the Minority Student Achievement Network, foreign exchange students and those enrolled in the 12th grade College Writing Course all made the two-day trip, accompanied by Heights High teachers and MSAN advisors O’Dasha Blue, Shawn Washington and Nathan Williams, and Mr. Sack.
With the recent hate crimes against African Americans in Kentucky and against Jewish Americans in Pennsylvania as their backdrop, students and teachers all felt keenly aware of the trip’s stated goals: education; the nurturing of tolerance, empathy, and acceptance of the ‘other’; and personal empowerment.
On their first day, the group spent five hours in the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, before visiting Heights class of 2016 graduate Taylor Jones on the campus of Howard University. After a tour and lively conversations, several underclassmen added Howard to their list of potential colleges.
The following day, students visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum where they focused on the Nazis’ rise to power and the untold number of “regular” men and women who allowed evil to flourish. Students and teachers engaged in a powerful debriefing session with two USHMM educators before their drive back to Cleveland, which revealed the importance of acting as an “Upstander,” one who speaks out and takes action against hate and injustice.
As Mr. Sack said, “It’s become clear that the teens’ generation has both the power and the responsibility to speak and to act in ways that promote a different society - a society that feels less fearful, less vulnerable and that is kinder, gentler, and more appreciative of the advantages of diversity.”
Several donations made the trip possible: local restaurants Jacks Deli and Corky and Lenny's provided packed boxed meals and Pinstripes, a Washington DC bowling ally and restaurant, provided complimentary meals and bowling activity.
The trip was supported by the Traub Family Foundation at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, the Holocaust Education Fund at the Heights Schools Foundation, the 'Stop the Hate' Contest award, and MSAN.