During the week of January 27 to 31, 2020, Middle School students focused on the Great Kindness Challenge, a national program dedicated to creating a positive culture of kindness on school campuses. One of the ways students and faculty delved deeply into the topic of kindness was welcoming guest speaker Zelda Fuksman, a Holocaust survivor.
On Tuesday, January 28, Zelda Fuksman, spoke to Middle School students about her experiences and the message that “kindness is a choice.”
“Kindness is something we work on all year,” said Dr. Lauren Berger, Middle School Counselor, “and it is so powerful for Scots to have the opportunity to join 15 million students in over 25,000 schools in 115 countries for the Great Kindness Challenge.”
SA is truly grateful that Ms. Fuksman joined Saint Andrew’s School to help celebrate the school’s special week with stories of her life marked by acts of forgiveness and kindness.
Ms. Fuksman was born in an observant Jewish family in Poland. She was four years old when World War II started. The Soviet army initially occupied the part of Poland where she lived. It was invaded by the Nazis in 1941 when Ms. Fuksman was six years old. Very few of the Jewish community in her town survived the war.
Ms. Fuksman told her story of spending the war in hiding, first in forests and later in Siberia. As she shared her story, she also imparted a message that the students have the power to make choices for good. “I bring you a message not of mourning, but of strength—what we can learn from the evil era that tortured and murdered innocent people,” said Ms. Fuksman.
In addition to Ms. Fuksman’s visit, the week of kindness was punctuated by events such as “Shine Bright with Kindness Day” on Monday, January 27, 2020. On this day, students were encouraged to wear neon clothing and accessories, rather than their school uniform, to help launch excitement for the week.
Later in the week, students were busy filling sidewalks outside of the Middle School with empowering messages, as well as decorating teacher/advisory classroom doors with kindness-themed materials.
Ms. Fuksman’s presentation, combined with a week of kindness-themed events reinforced one of the messages she stated in her remarks to students. “Do The Right Thing and Don’t be a Bystander—be an Upstander,” she said. “Protect the meek, the defenseless. Live with acceptance, not tolerance.”