A Back-to-School Recap

By: Hanna Magan, Mila Mabhongo, Antonea Rufa, Jordan Mallach, and Timothy Goldsmith

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In the beginning months of the school year, Thornton-Donovan has hosted numerous events which the student body and faculty have attended. Each event has served a purpose in both educating and inspiring students, as well as creating a link to this year’s theme of Israel and the celebration of religions.

Peace Day  

On September 20th, Thornton-Donovan celebrated the International Day of Peace. The day consisted of the speeches, artwork, poetry and music of talented students who have showcased, in many forms, their heartfelt expressions of peace. There were various speakers. Samira Rauf, a sophomore, made a beautiful speech about her religion, Islam, and how peace has strong influence on it as a belief system. Mila Mabhongo, a junior, had spoken about the effects of apartheid in South Africa and how it was overcome through peace.  The school’s annual guest, Miyamoto from Hiroshima, performed her expression of peace through calligraphy. There were also amazing musical guests: Dexter Doris, the Spizzwinks, West Coast Gravy and the Singh siblings, Lekha and Tej. The program ended with the traditional releasing of the doves. Peace Day continues to both teach and remind the students about peace and its importance in the world.

NYC Trip

On Monday, September 23rd, students from grades eight through nine went on a field trip to Midtown Manhattan. There, they saw a presentational show called Titans: Michaelangelo and Da Vinci; it is based on the lives of painters Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.

The presentation highlighted the inventions of the two geniuses and how their lives overlapped one another. The students were informed of various facts about them and how their works, ideas, and inventions influenced the modern world, and everything that people see and use today.

Junior Jenna Siegel ‘21 found the show itself very interesting and full of life, as she said, “I found it very nice how passionate the speaker was about his knowledge on the painters.” 

The student body is grateful to have gone on such an insightful trip while learning about the world’s history’s greatest innovators. 

A Visit From Esther Geizhals 

During the month of September, in which several activities occurred for the students and faculty to experience, the school was also fortunate to have met and listened to Esther Geizhals, an incredibly inspiring woman who has not only survived the Holocaust, but now selflessly tells the story of her life and the experiences she has had, both painful and positive, to others. 

After speaking to the student body and faculty of Thornton-Donovan, it is safe to say that she has left a mark on all who listened to her words. It is possible to write an entire book about her life and her story, as she is that amazing of a woman and speaker; however, in a more condensed way of putting it, Ms. Geizhals, by the end of her visit, imposed upon the students the absolute necessity in treating others with kindness and respect, for there is no reason to treat other human beings with hate or adversity in any way. 

Camille Harris, a senior, says “her story was amazing. I had never met a Holocaust survivor, and had only learned about the atrocities that occurred through a textbook and in a class setting. It was an incredibly inspiring and emotional experience to have heard it from a person who went through something like that. It has definitely reinforced the idea that it is imperative for everyone to be aware of what has occurred in history in order for it not to repeat itself.”

Ultimately, the school feels extremely lucky to have met such an amazing human being with such a gravitational life story. 

The Museum of Jewish Heritage 

On October 8, Thornton-Donovan School went on a trip to the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, located in Battery Park. There, they learned about Jewish life in 20th century Europe, with a specific focus on the Holocaust and World War Two. The museum tour taught students about the events that led up to the Holocaust, what happened during it, and its aftermath. 

From the diagrams about the types of triangle classifications of prisoners to Henrich Himmler’s helmet, students received detailed visual insight into this tragic era. In front of the museum stood a boxcar whose purpose was to carry victims of the Holocaust to Auschwitz and other death camps; the horrible nature of this innocent-looking boxcar shocked many students to their very core  due to its dark purpose. 

For several students, the museum visit was a truly dramatic and overwhelming experience. This trip has proven to be an important and insightful opening to the school year, especially for those enrolled in classes tied to Israel or for those who plan to embark on the trip during the spring. 

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