I find it fascinating that two elderly gentlemen who participated in a significant moment in world history spoke just years apart at a small Jewish high school in Phoenix. Ben Ferencz was a chief prosecutor and Ernest Michel, a survivor of Auschwitz, was a special correspondent, both at the Nuremberg Trials.
Their appearances at Jess Schwartz College Prep were part of the school’s Town Hall, a weekly 50-minute event for the student body, faculty and parents. Town Hall showcases a multitude of subjects and activities and is a forum for knowledge and experiences gained outside the classroom. The goal of Town Hall is to build community. According to the JSCP’s media director, Phil Trapani, this is achieved three ways: 1) by informing and educating, 2) by sharing in-group activities, and 3) by participating in the democratic process.
Town Hall has included subjects as varied as a state senator discussing the situation of genocide in Darfur, excerpts from the Phoenix Jewish Film Festival, cyber bullying, a Klezmer band, Israeli dancers, authors, AIPAC representatives, and outstanding artistic and musical student work.
Group activities have consisted of Sukkot building, theatrical workshops, student-made commercials for Drug Free America, the Israeli elections, a teen dating abuse presentation, and a prevention program by the residential treatment center called Beit T’Shuvah.
The democratic process incorporates student government elections. Next fall, students will be asked to determine school policies.
Whether a VIP is in town or a current event is taking place there is never a lack of topics for Town Hall. ♦
Each fall, the seventh grade students in my Jewish social studies class begin the year by participating in the Jewish Court of All Time online simulation. JCAT is an innovative learning adventure that is a joint venture between the University of Cincinnati’s...[More]
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