Freshmen Reflect on Weisel’s Holocaust Memoir

Sr. Barbara Cook’s freshman English class completed a segment on Elie Weisel’s memoir Night with creative presentations that symbolized rebirth and new life.

In an effort to personalize their study of Night, each student received a name, picture and brief biographical sketch of one teenage girl who endured the Holocaust.  The class created a “Wall of Remembrance” in the classroom, posting pictures of each young woman and mentioning her name as part of their prayer at the beginning of each class period. After studying the book, the class read and discussed the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech delivered by Elie Wiesel in Oslo on December 10, 1986.

As a culminating project, each student designed a butterfly, a symbol of life, in honor of the person she had remembered over the past six weeks.  The butterfly included the name of the young woman, selected biographical details, three excerpts from Elie Wiesel’s acceptance speech, and color and images that captured aspects of these excerpts. In class, each student gave an oral presentation on her butterfly design, and a reading and comments about her chosen excerpts.

Finally, the students replaced the original pictures on their Wall of Remembrance with their butterflies honoring the young women who had been spiritually present they deepened their understanding of the Holocaust. At the same time, Sr. Barbara solemnly revealed whether the girl has survived the Holocaust. Some had perished in concentrations camps, some had successfully hidden throughout the war, and still others had rescued others.