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Field Trip to the Jewish Film Festival
recipients: Zack Hull, Carson Middle School, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
date: April 2015
It was more than another afternoon at the movies. Zack Hull, an English teacher at Carson Middle School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, had arranged for the entire eighth grade to attend a special screening of Nicky’s Family through Teen Screen, a program of JFilm: The Pittsburgh Jewish Film Forum. Zack, who participated in the Memorial Library’s New York City Summer Seminar, received a Library mini-grant to cover the costs of transporting the more than 250 students and their teachers to the cinema.
A JFilm historian introduced the film by talking about Sir Nicholas Winton, whose anonymous rescue of hundreds of Jewish children during the Holocaust the documentary chronicles. After the screening, students engaged in a collaborative discussion with their teachers and the JFilm faculty, delving deeper into topics they had been exploring in their English classes as part of their study of the Holocaust. Back at school, Carson Middle School teachers used the film as an extension activity of the Holocaust and genocide unit, giving students the opportunity to write responses to their experience at the festival.
Some wrote that the film inspired them to be more selfless. Others found that it helped them be more cognizant of how they interact with the world around them. “The film changed and inspired me,” one said. “I can say that it made me rethink everything that I have done and have seen. I was in awe as I watched what just one man had the power to do.”
For Zack and his colleagues, the opportunity was priceless. “The students left the film feeling as if they, too, were capable of doing great things in their own lives.”