Seventh grade English classes welcomed Ms. Judith Steele on January 28, who visited in connection with The Cage, the novel the class has been studying. Ms. Steele is a Holocaust survivor and one of the 937 Jewish refugee passengers on the SS St. Louis. In 1939, the SS St. Louis departed from Hamburg to Havana, Cuba, in hopes of escaping Nazi Europe to a land of freedom. Her journey and experience as a Holocaust survivor were both compelling and inspiring.
Students expressed their deep reactions to her visit. “Ms. Steele has a way of transporting you back in time with her stories. She makes you feel her pain and her happiness,” said Khari.
During the class visit, Ms. Steele described how she was separated from her parents at age four after their ship brought them back to France. She spent a short amount of time in a labor camp, and was raised by a French Catholic family until she moved to the United States to live with her uncle’s family when she was eight.
Nikolay said, “She had a very powerful history even throughout her young age. Luckily, her young age helped her to survive the Holocaust and to tell her story to others.”
Ms. Steele brought books to share pictures with the students about her life experience. It was a memorable lecture that touched the hearts of everyone who was present. Her message taught the students to appreciate every day and to not take anything in life for granted.
“I thought the guest speaker was really cool,” said Lily. “When she told us about being departed from her parents, my heart sank. It was an amazing experience.”