Oakham School commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) last week with thought-provoking assemblies, tutorials and activities.
Lower School pupils and Form 7 students attended separate assemblies delivered by some of the Decem Prefects, focusing on why it is important to recognise Holocaust Memorial Day. The Decem explained why it is a starting point for us to learn more about what happened during the Holocaust and the genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. Forms 3 to 6 also had assemblies on this subject.
This year’s HMD theme focused on ‘One Day’, and pupils heard an extract from Holocaust survivor Zigi Shipper’s testimony about how his life changed when he arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau. While speaking to pupils online last academic year and last term to Form 4, Zigi’s advice was, “There is nothing we can do about the past, but we can do a lot about the present and the future.”
Pupils and all staff were asked to make a pledge to work towards ‘One Day’ without genocide, racism or hatred. These pledges were written on tags and then hung up at the heart of the School campus to display how the whole of the Oakham School community will stand against these issues. The effect was striking.
Form 4 had a tutorial following on from last term’s ‘Remembering the Holocaust day’ in which they learnt details about more recent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
Other activities included Lower 1 watching a short video learning about the story of Anne Frank, and Hodges pupils, alongside pupils in many other Boarding Houses lighting a candle to represent the light in the darkness at 8pm.
Pupils were also excited to hear that Zigi Shipper was one of the seven survivors to have his portrait commissioned by HRH The Prince of Wales and felt honoured that they had had the chance to talk to him about his life story.
The library had a display of books and information leaflets about HMD too.
Mrs Kelly Gibbons, Housemistress of Ancaster, who helped manage the activities, said, “Having the opportunity to discuss the role we play in standing up against injustice and considering what we can do to make the world a safer place is hugely important for our students and the wider School community.”