Asheboro City Schools News Article

A Moving Experience: Asheboro High School Students Hear a Holocaust Survivor's Powerful Story

Students with teacher Mrs. Columbia

On Thursday, November 30th, students at Asheboro High School heard Dr. Zev Harel, a Holocaust survivor, recount his experience during the horrific events that occurred from 1941 to 1945 in Nazi Germany. The students met with Dr. Harel via Zoom in the high school’s media center. 

Mrs. Lori Columbia’s English II and English II Honors class has been studying the Holocaust for the past few weeks through poetry, film, photographs, and memoirs. Currently, the class is reading Night, a memoir by Elie Wiesel that shares his and his family’s experiences in concentration camps. Mrs. Columbia had the privilege of meeting Wiesel before his passing, and to further inform her class’s learning, she wanted her students to experience firsthand hearing a survivor’s story like she has been able to.

Mrs. Columbia contacted Dr. Harel, who agreed to speak to her class. During the school’s fourth period at 2 p.m., the class met in the media center, where they logged on to Zoom to meet Dr. Harel. Other classes throughout the school joined the Zoom meeting to hear him speak as well. Dr. Harel joined the Zoom with his wife, Bernice, and shared his powerful story of survival and perseverance but did not dwell on the past. He encouraged students to aspire for greatness, embrace diversity, and be kind to others.

When he was done speaking, students had the opportunity to ask him questions about his life and experiences. Freshman Melanie Cantu asked him what his experience was like with the SS guards, and he answered that he tries not to be biased, but from his experience, most were evil and performed evil acts.

“Hearing him speak was very memorable and touching. It gave me chills. He was very motivational and reminded us to have a kind influence on others.” - Melanie Cantu, a 9th grader at Asheboro High School

Freshman Charlotte Smith says that hearing him speak morally taught her something and that we can’t take things for granted. 

“Dr. Harel taught me that to prevent something like that from happening again, we have to protect and be good to others.” 

English teacher Mrs. Columbia was so overcome with emotion that her students were able to hear Dr. Harel speak. She emphasized how Dr. Harel spoke about the importance of love and kindness, despite all circumstances. 

"I am so thankful that I was able to share this learning opportunity with my students. I will always be reminded of Harel's words of encouragement and his zest for life. I will never forget.” - Lori Columbia, an English teacher at Asheboro High School


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