“Syrie! We have to talk,” asserted Stephanie as she marched toward me, finger pointing, eyes wide.
“What’s up, Steph?” I stammered, backpedaling as she came on, a mini drama unfolding as second period began.
“I’m done. I am not coming back. This is it”
“I read it. I read it all,” she charged. “And I am living on only two hours of sleep right now. First The Book Thief and now this! I am done. Not coming back.”
“Couldn’t put it down, huh?” I responded.
“No, I knew I could only endure it once, so I finished it in one sitting because I wasn’t gonna be able to go back to it.” she fired, stepping closer. But retreat was no longer possible as I was backed against the whiteboard, eyes searching, seeking help from the rest of my students as Steph’s passion poured out onto the floor of 219.
Of course, as always, the scene was better if one was there, and it’s even better if one knows Stephanie. She is truly a diamond among gems, a soul that elevates all of us to greater heights. I am just sorry that I broke her heart. I am even more sorry that I am gonna break it some more, for there are more sad stories to come. It’s the Holocaust.
The day before, I had assigned the memoir Night by Elie Wiesel. This is after our watching The Book Thief as an introduction to our Holocaust unit. It is a short book, only 115 pages, but it carries an immeasurable impact as it takes one through mankind’s darkest hour, relating the nightmare that Elie lived during World War 2. Truly, it grabs hold and does not let go–ever. And even though I gave the kids a reading schedule that covered two-and-a-half weeks, suspecting that some would certainly finish the slim volume sooner, I did not expect that any would finish it the night I assigned it. Steph finished it. And obviously it had an impact. I am sorry that our kids have to face such terrible truths from the past, but I know the more terrible truth of not knowing or forgetting. Elie wrote the book so the world would not forget, hoping if they read it, they could not forget. Those who read it do not forget. And as tragic and traumatic as Stephanie’s experience was, sadder stories still will play out over the next two weeks, for some kids won’t read it. Yep, despite all that I will attempt to do to motivate them and inspire them, despite Steph’s dramatic infomercial, some kids will not find the motivation to read it, and that, to me, is the real tragedy–my broken heart. Sorry, Steph, that I had to break yours.
Happy Friday, all. If you have not read Night, you need to. We cannot forget.