Antlers GEAR UP students visit Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance
WILBURTON, OK (March, 9 2016) – Antlers GEAR UP sophomores recently visited the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance. Founded in 1984, the Museum is dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and to teaching the moral and ethical response to prejudice, hatred and indifference for the benefit of all humanity. The Museum has been recognized for its compelling and creative programming, internationally recognized exhibits, and world-class speakers.
As students toured the Museum, they viewed pictures, maps and artifacts from the time of the Holocaust—January 30, 1933–May 8, 1945. Students heard stories about different victims and heroes who lived during the era.
Following the tour, students listened to Mr. Paul Kessler, a Holocaust survivor. Kessler’s family was from a village in present day Slovakia. He spoke of a town where generations of his family had lived. The Jewish people had inhabited the town since the 1700s, and when he was born in 1939, there were about 1,000 Jews in the town. When the war ended, only 124 Jews were still alive, and he was the only child.
Kessler’s father and grandfather were taken by soldiers to Auschwitz in 1942. Years later he learned of their deaths in the camp through the German’s detailed records of prisoners who arrive and deaths that occurred during this time.
His mother, grandmother, aunt and uncle—as well as a few others in the family—survived the Holocaust. His grandmother survived a concentration camp, and he and his mother, aunt and uncle lived due to the kindness of the sympathetic non–Jewish citizens that lived in the village where they escaped to during the war to avoid capture by the Nazis that were gathering Jews to send to death camps. His family was hidden in holes in the ground.
After the war ended, Kessler’s mother made arrangements for all of them to leave the country and immigrate to other countries, including the United States. He and his mother immigrated to the Unites States in 1951, when he was 12 years old.
Kessler enjoyed a career working for American Express, and he traveled and lived in many countries in the world. He encouraged the students to get an education and be all the things that the children of the Holocaust did not have the opportunity to be. He also spoke of education being a core value of the Jewish people.
“After visiting the Dallas Holocaust Museum, I will look at my life differently,” said Antlers sophomore Shannon Keener. “I shall be more thankful! Thank you, GEAR UP, for allowing me this opportunity. I’m extremely grateful that I actually was able to meet a Holocaust survivor. WOW!”
Antlers sophomore Kaden Shetter said, “A touching and informative experience!”
“Hearing the story firsthand from a Holocaust survivor and seeing the countless items from the Holocaust really put this tragic event from history into more understandable terms,” said Emily Dahl. “I’m very grateful to Paul Kessler for coming to speak to us. It was altogether an awesome experience. Thank you, GEAR UP!”
Kayla Galle said, “I walked out of the museum with a different outlook on life, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Thanks, GEAR UP.”
“You could tell the trip made a profound difference in the students’ lives,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator LaDonna Baldwin. “It was an experience they will never forget.”
The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Participating schools take two field trips each academic year—one to tour a college or university and one that is cultural/educational in nature.
Holocaust survivor Paul Kessler speaks to Antlers students about events that took place during the Holocaust.
Antlers GEAR UP sophomores visited the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance. Front Row: Kaden Shetter, Nolan Hargrove and Jachob Washington Row 2: Kortney Powell, Kaylea Bailey, Matthew Bloodworth, McKinley Payne, Dakota Fromme and Jake Nabors Row 3: Cierra Hime, Jessica Mills, Bailey Woods, Alexandra Sinns, Faith Folsom, Stormi Freeman, Kasey Cole, Deandra Wages and Taia Harris Row 4: Michael Davis, Michaela Galle, Natalie Little, Martina Avance, Cindi Huffman, Corbin Owens, Chris Burnett, Taylor Ingram and Taylor Breshears Row 5: Nature Larkins, Heather Scott, Kaylen Luginbill, Madison Clark, Brittany Durall, Shannon Keener, Katie Paredes, Eva Howser, Taylor Hokett, Bailey Kellett and Kayleigh Robertson Back Row: Joseph Maynard, Brooklyn Lampton, Kylia Thompson, Elaine Lester, Miranda Lough, Emily Dahl, Madeleine Smallwood, Holocaust Survivor Paul Kessler, Micah Blevins, Elissa Frazier, Corinne Fromme, Cason Akard, Kaleb Standridge, Tre Taylor, John Stout, Michael Teyer, Bryce Williams, Lee Cole, and Jagger Meshaya