Five students take home honors in 2015 Elie Wiesel competition

Norfolk Collegiate students made a strong showing in the junior multimedia category for the 2015 Elie Wiesel Writing and Visual Arts Competition, From the Other Side. Five of our Middle School students were honored on Wednesday, April 15, by the Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, which hosted the competition locally. 

The following Norfolk Collegiate seventh-grade students were recognized for their work:
  • Brooke Rogers took first-place in the category for her entry, From the Other Side  
  • Elizabeth Hughes and Tabitha Thornton tied for second place for their entry, Imagine 
  • Evelyn Gardener and Perry McKay were honored with third place for their entry, Rewind 
  • Lastly, Rachel Cooke received an honorable mention for her entry, Walking in the Footsteps  
Wiesel, the namesake of the competition, is a Holocaust survivor who authored 57 books, including Night, which is based on his experiences concentration camps. Every year, the Holocaust Commission invites students to participate in competitions that explore moral courage, the dangers of prejudice, peer pressure, unthinking obedience to authority and indifference named in Wiesel’s honor. 
All seventh-grade students were given a choice of projects to complete following their study of the Holocaust and reading Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz, which recounts the story of Yanek Gruener. In the novel, which is based on a true story, Gruener is forced from one concentration camp to another after being taken by the Nazis. Yet, amid the horrors, he sees glimpse of hope and life. 
Following the completion of the book, Middle School English teachers Lindsey Bell and Julie Hastings worked together to merge the novel with either writing an essay or producing a multimedia presentation to be entered in the competition. 
Seventh-grade student Brooke Rodgers, who placed first in the multimedia competition said when approaching the projects, she wanted to think outside of the box. 
“I had to push the limits of my creativity to portray what the Holocaust was,” said Brooke. “I wanted to do something original. So I thought, who were the people involved. Most people would focus on the life as a concentration camp survivor; I wanted to look at what it was like to be a Nazi.”
For her classmates and third-place winners Evelyn Gardener and Perry McKay, they found inspiration is a quote from Gandhi.
“We thought the Gandhi quote whatever you do now will reflect on you later is like the domino effect. We wanted to show how Hitler used the dominion effect,” said Perry.
The team focused on showing how one thing can lead to another. “We had to go through a lot of trial and error,” said Evelyn of making the video. “We spent a lot of time getting everything together.”
In the end, the ladies were pleased with their hard work.
“I was definitely in shock when they announced that I had won the competition,” said Brooke.
See it in person
The students’ films will be running with the other winners in a show at the Old Dominion University’s (ODU) Virginia Beach Campus from May 4-29. A reception will be held at ODU on May 6 from 5-7 p.m. to honor the students.