Remember. Inspire. Take Action.
The Writing, Art, and Film Contest challenges students to explore the history and stories of the Holocaust and to consider how individual actions, big and small, make a difference.
See the 2021 Winning Entries below! We received 577 entries, representing 55 schools.
Watch a Video of this year's awards program.
LEARN MORE about this contest: Topic, Rules, Prizes. Open to students in grades 5-12 from Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska. Details for the 2022 contest will be available in December 2021.
Thank you to everyone who participated!
Creative Writing, Art, and Film: Explore the Survivor Encyclopedia: Washington State - How does one of these survivors inspire you or give you hope in the face of today’s challenges?
Argumentative Writing: In a cohesive paper, write a letter to Governor Jay Inslee arguing in favor of mandating (requiring) Holocaust education in Washington State schools.
Film - 5th-8th Grade
1ST PLACE - Tyler Rubenstein and Lukas Fluegge, 8th Grade, Maywood Middle School, Renton.
2ND PLACE - Ryleigh Aker, 8th Grade, Einstein Middle School, Shoreline.
3RD PLACE - Mika Hill, 7th Grade, Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle.
Film - 9th-12th Grade
1ST PLACE - Henry Liao, 12th Grade, Tesla STEM High School, Redmond. Teacher: Jenai Sheffels.
2ND PLACE - Ananya Nandula,12th Grade, Tesla STEM High School, Redmond. Teacher: Jenai Sheffels.
3RD PLACE - Ananya Ganapathi, 12th Grade, Tesla STEM High School, Redmond. Teacher: Jenai Sheffels.
1ST PLACE - William Harper, 6th Grade, Kopachuck Middle School, Gig Harbor.
The subject of my painting is Thomas Blatt. He inspires me because of his perseverance. He teaches me that when you were going through hard things you can stay strong. The left side of the painting is Thomas while in the concentration camp. The black and white of this side represents the sadness and trials that Thomas faced. He is not smiling. The right side of the painting is Thomas after the war during the days of happiness spent with his family. The bright colors of this side and his smile represents his joy.
2ND PLACE - Maya Delcau, 6th Grade, Jewish Day School, Bellevue. Teacher: Nance Adler.
My art piece symbolizes the sorrow of the Holocaust. This sorrow is seen in morbid colors within the picture. The shooting star in my art represents the Jewish soul leaving a prisoner’s body. Yet, the Holocaust is not only a picture of despair. There are also small pockets of light in that life. These lights are symbolized in the yellow color of the star. My art piece is meant to bring emotion with a resentful perspective. This is in the hope to empower others to make the world a happier place. Yet, at the same time to say, “Never Again!”
Art - 7th/8th Grade
1ST PLACE - Aida Chen, 8th Grade, College Place Middle School, Lynnwood.
The hat inside the painting was one of many he bought after the holocaust. Inspired by ¨ The Food of the Dead for the Living¨ it brought on the radiant colors of the bag of food, representing the importance of the food provided. His clothes portrayed the camp´s conditions with dark blues and muddy yellows. The background inspired by the painting ¨Blind man in Belsen¨ inspired a dark, dreary atmosphere. Jack was portrayed with the bright colors of his face unlike the dark shapes behind him. He was portrayed in his 90´s because of his actions influenced by the Holocaust.
2ND PLACE - Jacob Friedman, 8th Grade, Torah Day School, Seattle. Teacher: Judy Temes.
Fred Kahn inspired my drawing, which shows someone reaching for a sandwich. The rope--tied to a rock--holds him back. Written on the sandwich bag is the word “Trust”; carved in the rock is the word “Fear.” Fred met a Nazi soldier who offered him a sandwich. Fear, however, kept Fred from leaving the workline. He didn’t know if he could trust. This shows how hard it is to overcome fear. There is hope though. The rope is slowly breaking. Fred is overcoming his fear. Eventually, he took the gift. We all struggle with trust, especially when times are hard.
3RD PLACE - Shelli Bassli, 8th Grade, Jewish Day School, Seattle. Teacher: Nance Adler.
I chose to create my art piece based off of Steve Adler’s story, He was one of the kids sent to the Kindertransport who had gotten separated from his family. His story inspired me to show the struggle he faced and how throughout his life some parts of the holocaust would always remain with him. The antisemitic words yelled at him, engraved into his veins. Tear stained with the Nazis' Swastika. His eyes still holding a picture of his family being torn apart that day.
HONORABLE MENTION - David Somes, 8th Grade, Coupeville Middle School, Coupeville.
Carla Olman Peperzak’s life was separated into many different parts when the Nazis/German Soldiers came. My sticky notes represent how her life was separated. Carla had carried her brother to safety which represents the C. The A represents how Amsterdam was her home and where she helped the Jews. The R represents how she strongly refused to be loyal to Hitler because she believed what he was doing was wrong. Carla Peperzak lied a lot to protect the Jews and her family, that is represented by the L. And finally, the last A. This A represents how approximately 40 Jews were saved and helped by Carla hiding them and becoming a nurse.
Art - 9th-12th Grade
1ST PLACE - Lily Collet, 9th Grade, Garfield High School, Seattle. Teacher: Heather Robison.
I chose to do a black and white portrait to give the piece a solemn tone. I wanted to show that Thomas Blatt’s experiences during the Holocaust were real, tragic, and that means they are not always hopeful. He is wearing what looks like a military uniform, typifying his unrelenting strength and resistance to antisemitism. I included red butterflies in the piece because, though they are beautiful and gentle, they are often associated with evil. It symbolizes his story- that he was just a kid when he became the target of abrasive hate and iniquitous violence.
2ND PLACE - Natalie Stillwell, Grade 12, Tesla STEM High School, Redmond. Teacher: Jenai Sheffels.
Ada Van Esso’s descriptions of her time in an Auschwitz laundry room inspired me. Despite losing everything, she still tried to help by providing work for others.
The color scheme shows the contrast in Ada’s life – Auschwitz’s horrors clash with her compassion. There’s mostly black, as it represents the hopelessness of Auschwitz. The disjointed lines show the uncertainty inmates felt for their future. The tear is the center point, demonstrating how prisoners were ripped from their former lives and their families. However, the cloth is white to show Ada’s kindness was akin to an act of heroism amidst the darkness.
3RD PLACE - Suhani Arora, Grade 12, Tesla STEM High School, Redmond. Teacher: Jenai Sheffels.
"I hugged my mother and I kissed her, and I said, 'Mom, I'll see you later.' But of course I have never seen my mother again." - Magda Schaloum
Magda Schaloum’s mother and brother were deported to Auschwitz and similarly, millions of families experienced separation during the Holocaust. My charcoal piece shows a girl holding on to a humanlike figure resembling the night sky, which represents the survivors’ strength to move on from the traumatic experience while holding on to the values and memories of the loved ones they lost and pass them on to future generations.
HONORABLE MENTION - Sahil Kancherla, Grade 12, Tesla STEM High School, Redmond. Teacher: Jenai Sheffels.
Magda Schaloum’s story stood out to me in that her darkest days cultivated something beautiful: love. Despite enduring Auschwitz, Plaszow, and Muhldorf, Schaloum managed to find her life partner amidst unimaginable horrors. Though they came from different backgrounds and spoke distinct languages, they were meant to be together. I aimed to depict how Magda’s Hungarian origins, indicated by the red and green, as well as her husband’s Greek roots, signified by the blue and white, found a common ground within the darkness. I also highlighted how the concentration camps and factories she survived eventually made up the woman she became.
1ST PLACE - Yehuda Katsman, 6th Grade, Seattle Hebrew Academy. Teacher: Philip Grossenbacher.
I think that it is very important that teaching about the Holocaust should be mandatory because some people don’t know about the whole genocide or what even happened. Some people might still think that Hitler is their hero when they don’t know that Hitler was bad. This is what is happening in our world right now. We really need to fix that by teaching everyone in schools about the Holocaust. Read More
2ND PLACE - Alexandra Taufen, 6th Grade, Tekoa Elementary, Tekoa. Teacher: Jennifer Sperber.
Should the murder of millions of people be forgotten? The Holocaust was a HUGE event that happened in history. A lot of people lost their lives, 6 Million to be exact. I feel that schools should teach kids about the Holocaust because I don’t want history to repeat itself. It teaches us to be aware of the corruption of power. We are taught to learn from our mistakes, and this was a big one. Read More
Creative Writing - 5th/6th Grade
1ST PLACE - Lilly Miller, 5th Grade, Herzl-Ner Tamid Frankel Religious School, Mercer Island. Teacher: Andi Neuwirth.
Hitler was letting us go at last! But how long would it be I ask. | We are broke, and have no jobs, | Will we have enough money to go very far? | We escape from the country, but where will we go? | I cry, because I do not know. | I look across the faces of glee, for we were escaping and soon would be free! Read More
2ND PLACE - Judy Aaronson, 6th Grade, Torah Day School, Seattle. Teacher: Judy Temes.
Vera’s story inspires me to have courage and determination. During Covid, we didn’t know what would happen. We watched helplessly as hospitals filled up and people died. Vera’s story of survival helps me have hope during this horrible time. Read More
3RD PLACE - Rivka Maimon, 5th Grade, Torah Day School, Seattle. Teacher: Judy Temes.
Think, Remember, Imagine. | Something then was hard to do, | All you could think about, | Was you, you, you. | Think about the other people | Who are suffering just the same. | It was much harder for them, | So please do not complain. Read More
Argumentative Writing - 7th/8th Grade
1ST PLACE - Edward Perera, 8th Grade, Coupeville Middle School, Coupeville. Teacher: Casie Greve.
When I saw the insurrection of the capital by known Neo-Nazis wearing shirts saying 6 million wasn’t enough, while I was learning about the Holocaust, I was shaken. Whenever anyone hears of an event like this, we all need to recognize the early warning signs that history is repeating itself, and we must not stand by without attempting to steer ourselves to a better future. This is why I think it should be mandatory to have Holocaust education. Read More.
2ND PLACE - Stephanie Courtright, 8th Grade, St. Luke School, Shoreline. Teacher: Rosemary Conroy.
Without proper teaching, students will not grow up to become the leaders we need to change the world. A curriculum on the Holocaust would provide ways to combat and recognize prejudice. But why must we acknowledge the risks of prejudice? Read More
3RD PLACE - Isaac Hoffman, 8th Grade, Torah Day School, Seattle. Teacher: Judy Temes.
People need to know about people like Mel Wolf who spent five years in concentration and labor camps, surviving the worst hardships someone could suffer and still making it out as a free man...There are many more people like him who have experienced these atrocities and survived. There are countless other Washington residents who survived the Holocaust and more around the world. We should know their stories; everyone should know their stories. Read More
Creative Writing - 7th/8th Grade
1ST PLACE - Mia Mehlman, 8th Grade, Seattle Hebrew Academy. Teacher: Philip Grossenbacher.
[Survivor] Zahava said that the sunset is what inspired her to keep going. I believe that now, during the pandemic, we should not focus on the things that have changed but instead on the things that have stayed the same. The sun will always rise in the morning and set in the evening. I understand that when put in a difficult situation you should focus on the little things that you have. Read More
2ND PLACE - Marley MacDonald, 8th Grade, Islander Middle School, Mercer Island.
Nussbaum inspires me to realize that change is always possible. After years of war and devastation, Nussbaum never gave up and instead created a happy life for herself and her husband, also a Holocaust survivor, Rudi Nussbaum. This encourages me that even now, when I feel like the arduous process of fighting for my health will never end, change will happen. Possibilities are endless, even when in the moment of despair such ideas seem to be farfetched. Read More
3RD PLACE - Sydney Shawley, 7th Grade, Home School, Vancouver, WA.
It started when I decided to ask the Aigners if I could interview them for a school project, and over a series of Zoom calls, they shared with me their amazing legacy and stories of survival. I felt their pain when they described those who they had lost. I was overjoyed when they spoke of miracles. Here the darkest days of humanity were endured, and they persevered. Read More
HONORABLE MENTION - Aytan Sternberg, 7th Grade, Jewish Day School, Bellevue. Teacher: Nance Adler.
Struggle. September 3, 1939 – Pabianice, Poland. I am Maniusia, 11 years old. Struggle. War raging out the door, running, frightened, I remember the clothes I wore... Struggle. War vs. peace, a great disparity, this antisemitism, sad is the severity ... Struggle. The ghetto at Lodz, no one is free; “nothing can make you forget the hungry...” Read More
Argumentative Writing - 9th-12th Grade
1ST PLACE (TIE) - Madeleine Smith, 9th Grade, Garfield High School, Seattle. Teacher: Heather Robison.
I am writing to you out of necessity to make you see why it is vital for the harrowing epoch known as the Holocaust to be required education in all Washington schools. Teaching the Holocaust fosters intelligent discussions, honors the dead and the surviving, and strengthens our humanity. To not teach the Holocaust would be to do a disservice to the memories of the past and the peace of the future. Read More
1ST PLACE (TIE) - Alexis Vorley, 10th Grade, Eastside Prep, Kirkland.
All students inevitably hear statistics and basic background regarding WWII and the Holocaust. Without mandated Holocaust education, they will not receive the invaluable opportunity to hear personal histories like this in order to comprehend the fact that individual people make up the astounding numbers. Read More
2ND PLACE - Samuel Beal, 10th Grade, Enumclaw High School, Enumclaw. Teacher: Alysha Holmquist.
UNESCO states teaching and learning about the Holocaust, teaches us about the societies and institutions that are supposed to protect everyones rights. Then how those can be turned against a segment of society, particularly when someone is in a leadership role. Everyone needs to understand how a person in leadership can take someone's trust, and twist it against a community. Read More
Creative Writing - 9th-12th Grade
1ST PLACE - Alisa Pokazanyeva, 10th Grade, Shorecrest High School, Shoreline.
Alone. She was all alone, Are we really alone? Isolated from the rest of the world How do we find the determination? From those who loved her, To protect the ones we love... Read More
2ND PLACE - Maria Arciniega, 11th Grade, Enumclaw High School, Enumclaw. Teacher: Alysha Holmquist.
A Letter To My Future Children: Dear children, I have hope that the world has become a better and safer place for you. I have hope that you can walk amongst people without being looked down upon. I have hope that you do not have to go through what I have gone through. There have been so many challenges I have had to overcome throughout my life. I have hope that my story will be different than yours. We can trace my story back to around 2003. But let me begin with your grandparents. Read More
3RD PLACE - Elise Sundqvist, 10th Grade, Enumclaw High School, Enumclaw. Teacher: Alysha Holmquist.
paula, i am alive. i am alive even though the typhus eats away at my veins and the ordeal i have just survived picks at my brain. every night i think about the terror wrought i think of all the time we have lost. i don’t know if this letter will reach you. i don’t know if you are even alive. Read More
HONORABLE MENTION - Dalton McOuat, 9th Grade, Enumclaw High School, Enumclaw. Teacher: Alysha Holmquist.
In the middle of the night I could hear windows shattering and crying. I left my room and went downstairs to see my father looking out the window. I joined him and saw men running down the street. My father went back to the kitchen where he opened the cabinet my sister and I were not allowed in and grabbed a bottle from there. My curiosity got the best of me and I slipped out the door. I walked down the sidewalk with bare feet. The men were running to Fred’s house. When I got to Fred’s house I could see broken windows and the door wide open... Read More
Thank you to our judges!
Alex Anderson | Lauren Bear | Yuval Berenstein | Marcy Bloom | Emily Bowden | Elaine Buchignani | Mario Campos | Rosa Campos | Laurie Warshal Cohen | Sean Dougherty | Leora Eisenberg | Paquita Esterly | Ron Gompertz | Andy Helman | Zakory Holbrook | Moriel O'Connor | Isobel Press | Jody Quitadamo | Marla Kurz Regelbrugge | Penny Rhines | Morgan Romero | Mary Sherhart | Carl Shutoff | David Thompson | David Weinfeld
Archbishop Murphy High School, Everett | Assumption Catholic School, Bellingham | Cascade High School, Everett | Cascade Middle School, Seattle | College Place Middle School, Lynnwood | Coupeville Middle School, Coupeville | Eastside Preparatory School, Kirkland | Einstein Middle School, Shoreline | Enumclaw High School, Enumclaw | Garfield High School, Seattle | Gig Harbor High School, Gig Harbor | Griffin School, Olympia | Herzl-Ner Tamid Frankel Religious School, Mercer Island | Holy Family Parish School, Kirkland | Home School, Various cities | Innovation High School, Spokane | Insight School of Washington, Tacoma | Islander Middle School, Mercer Island | Issaquah High School, Issaquah | Jewish Day School, Bellevue | John Sedgwick Middle School, Port Orchard | Key Peninsula Middle School, Lakebay | Kopachuck Middle School, Gig Harbor | Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle | Lewis and Clark High School, Spokane | Lindbergh High School, Renton | Madison Middle School, Seattle | Maywood Middle School, Renton | Mead High School, Spokane | Meany Middle School, Seattle | Meeker Middle School, Renton | Mercer Island High School, Mercer Island | Northwest Christian School, Colbert | Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School, Seattle | Peninsula High School, Gig Harbor | Raisbeck Aviation High School, Tukwila | Ridgecrest Elementary School, Shoreline | Sacajawea Middle School, Federal Way | Seattle Hebrew Academy, Seattle | Shorecrest High School, Shoreline | Sitka High School, Sitka, AK | Spanaway Middle School, Tacoma | St. Benedict Catholic School, Seattle | St. Luke School, Shoreline | St. Thomas School, Medina | Stanwood High School, Stanwood | Tekoa Elementary School, Tekoa | Tesla STEM High School, Redmond | The Northwest School, Seattle | Torah Day School, Seattle | Wenatchee High School, Wenatchee | Whatcom Middle School, Bellingham