Holocaust Reflection Contest

Reflect Back ... Look Forward

By learning from the past, we enrich our future. History and experiences can become more than just testimonials and facts. They can serve as sources for mapping your and our nation’s future. The stories of Holocaust survivors are rich with lessons and inspiration.

Florida middle and high school students, with the support of their teachers and parents, are invited to participate in the annual Holocaust Reflection Contest sponsored by the Holocaust Learning and Education Fund, Inc. and hosted by Nova Southeastern University. Students begin by selecting a quotation or survivor's story that inspires them, then submit their reflection in the form of an original essay, a poem, a short film, or an art piece.

2016 Winners

2016 winners in Washington DC

Pictured L-R: Autumn Kulla, Dailey Jackson, Jake Twargoski, Mahli Salgado, Elio Reyes, and Susana Obando during their trip to Washington, D.C.

High School

Elio Reyes | Grade 10
Mulberry High School | Mulberry, Florida
Essay/Poem | "Essay Inspired by Night by Elie Wiesel"

Autumn Kulla | Grade 12
NSU University School | Fort Lauderdale/Davie, Florida
Art | "Fading"

Susana Obando | Grade 12
The Sagemont School | Weston, Florida
Film | "The Holocaust: A Reflection on Those Who Lived to Tell the Tale"

Middle School

Mahli Salgado | Grade 7
Beachside Montessori Village | Hollywood, Florida
Essay/Poem | "Stripped"

Dailey Jackson | Grade 8
St. Joseph Catholic School | Jacksonville, Florida
Art | "Left Alone"

Jake Twargoski | Grade 6
Pinnacle Academy | Bradenton, Florida
Film | "Eva Galler: An Escape from the Death Camp Train"

Click here to view the 2016 Award Ceremony Photo Gallery

Find Your Inspiration

Soon after their liberation from the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps, Holocaust survivors Viktor Frankl, Elie Wiesel, and Thomas Buergenthal published Man's Search for Meaning, Night, and A Lucky Child respectively. Their books analyze their and other prisoners' encounters in concentration camps, and, most importantly, they provide perspectives from which we can all learn.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem, the USC Shoah Foundation, and numerous other online resources offer a large selection of survivor testimonials and documented history. These stories offer unique insight on the impact of our daily choices and why we must avoid intolerance, hatred, racism, and bigotry as individuals and as a society.

How to Participate

The application period for the 2016-17 contest will open on December 1, 2016.

This contest is open to all middle and high school students in the State of Florida commencing with the 2016-17 school year.

  1. Begin by watching or reading Holocaust survivors testimonials.
  2. Select a testimonial or other historical reference (e.g., a family member's story of surviving the Holocaust) that inspires you. This will serve as your primary resource for understanding, analysis, and evaluation of the Holocaust and how the lessons from this period have an impact on your thinking and your future. (Please make note of the name of the Holocaust survivor and, if the testimonial is found online, bookmark the website. You will be required to include this information on the contest application.)
  3. Reflect on this piece of history, its meaning to you, and how it may impact your future. Why is this piece meaningful to you? How could you adapt it and take its meaning into your future? Submit your answers to these questions (and other related reflections you may have) in the form of an essay, a poem, a short film, or a visual art piece.
  4. To enter the contest, each student must submit the online application by January 22, 2017.
  5. To complete the entry, each student's parent/guardian must then submit the online release form by January 24, 2017 (11:59 p.m.). A link to the release form will be emailed to the parent/guardian after the student has entered the contest.

Submission Criteria

Each student may enter a maximum of one submission per category (i.e., one essay, one visual art piece, and one film). Group projects will not be accepted; only one student per submission.

Your name, school, and email address should not appear within the content of your submission.

Writing

  • an essay or a poem of no more than 500 words
  • double-spaced
  • 12 pt. font
  • accepted file formats: .doc, .docx, .pdf

Visual Art

  • a two-dimensional image of any variety (a digitally created image, digital photograph, or a photograph of an original art piece)
  • accepted file formats: .jpeg, .bmp

Film

  • running time not to exceed five minutes
  • credits should be prepared but not saved as part of the submitted file
  • accepted file formats: .mp4, .mpeg, .mov

Please note: Do not use symbols or blank spaces in the file names.

Prizes*

If you’ve participated in this contest before, please note that the prizes have changed, and first-place winners—as well as their teachers and schools—will each receive a cash prize (as detailed below). The winning students and their families, teachers, and principals will also be invited to a weekend of activities including a private tour of the Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial, as well as an awards ceremony, lunch reception, and presentation on the Fort Lauderdale/Davie campus Nova Southeastern University in March 2017. All students who enter the contest will receive a digital Certificate of Participation.

1st Place in Each of the 3 Categories (6 winners will be selected: 3 in middle school, 3 in high school)

  • $1,000 to be awarded to each winning student
  • $500 to be awarded to each winning student’s teacher
  • $500 to be awarded to each winning student’s school

 2nd Place in Each of the 3 Categories (6 winners will be selected: 3 in middle school, 3 in high school)

  • $250 to be awarded to each winning student

* Based on the discretion of the contest planning and steering committee, the number of prizes may be altered due to the quantity and quality of the entries.

Located in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a dynamic research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and first-professional degree levels. A private, not-for-profit institution with more than 24,000 students, NSU has campuses in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Palm Beach, and Tampa, Florida, as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico, while maintaining a presence online globally. For more than 50 years, NSU has been awarding degrees in a wide range of fields, while fostering groundbreaking research and an impactful commitment to community. Classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU is 1 of only 37 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification, and is also the  largest private, not-for-profit institution in the United States that meets the U.S. Department of Education’s criteria as a Hispanic-serving Institution.

Celebrating 50 years of academic excellence!

The Holocaust Learning and Education Fund, Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation formed by Craig and Barbara Weiner in 2013 for the express purpose of broadening Holocaust education amongst America's students. It is the ultimate goal of the founders of this program to see this form of education expanded through many other states in order to teach America's students how intolerance of others can lead to the destruction of our social fabric, while patience and understanding of others will always result in a safer and better world for all to live in.

For further information, please visit www.holocausteducationfund.com.

Holocaust Survivor Testimonials

Browse through the following websites to explore survivor testimonials in text, audio, photographic, and video formats.

Florida Holocaust Museum - This searchable website includes the museum's survivor testimonies.

Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies - This comprehensive collection includes video testimonies collected by the Yale University Library.

Holocaust Documentation and Education Center, Inc. - This South Florida museum offers an Oral History Collection of testimonials transcribed from interviews with survivors. To read these, students may visit the location in Hollywood.

Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida - This site includes survivor testimonies categorized by time period.

Holocaust Survivors - This site presents history with a human face. Read the survivors' stories, hear them speak, and view their photographs.

Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust - Provided by the University of South Florida, this site includes video testimonials and archival footage.

Telling Their Stories: Oral History Archives Project - This site includes transcriptions of student interviews with Holocaust survivors.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum - This site offers personal histories, essays, the "Memory Project," conversations with survivors, diary entries, survivor tributes, oral history resources, and "Life After the Holocaust" documented experiences.

USC Shoah Foundation - Provided by the Institute for Visual History and Education, this site features full-length and edited video clips of survivor testimonies, in addition to student-produced videos about Holocaust survivors.

Visual History Archive - Supported by the USC Shoah Foundation, this portal allows users to search and view nearly 52,000 survivor and witness testimonies. Free online registration is required.

Yad Vashem - This site includes video survival testimonials organized by topic and location.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you cannot find the answer to your question on this website or below, please call (954) 262-8185 or email holocaustessay@nova.edu.

  1. What is the contest prompt or essay question?
    There is no specific question for you to answer in your entry. To participate, you must select a Holocaust survivor testimonial that inspires you and create an original essay/poem, visual art piece, or short film that reflects this inspiration and the lessons you learned from this survivor testimonial, how you can apply this insight in making your own daily life choices, and how the survivor testimonial has affected you personally.
  2. When is my submission due?
    Contest entries will be accepted December 1, 2016–January 22, 2017.
  3. What are the prizes?
    If you’ve participated in this contest before, please note that the prizes have changed.The winning students and their families, teachers, and principals will be invited to a weekend of activities including a private tour of the Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial, as well as an awards ceremony, lunch reception, and presentation on the Fort Lauderdale/Davie campus of Nova Southeastern University in March 2017. All students who enter the contest will receive a digital Certificate of Participation.

    1st Place in Each of the 3 Categories (6 winners will be selected: 3 in middle school, 3 in high school)

    • $1,000 to be awarded to each winning student
    • $500 to be awarded to each winning student’s teacher
    • $500 to be awarded to each winning student’s school

     2nd Place in Each of the 3 Categories (6 winners will be selected: 3 in middle school, 3 in high school)

    • $250 to be awarded to each winning student

    * Based on the discretion of the contest planning and steering committee, the number of prizes may be altered due to the quantity and quality of the entries.

  4. How do I enter the contest?
    Complete and submit the online application, including a successful upload of your entry in one of the accepted file formats, and have your parent/guardian submit the release form by the deadline.
    Please note: Open and submit the application on a computer, not on a smart phone or tablet. The application is not compatible with mobile devices. Do not use symbols or blank spaces in your file names. The application also does not accept hotmail.com email addresses for your, your parent/guardian's, or teacher's email contact.
  5. What should I do if I'm experiencing technical issues with the online application or parent release form?
    Email holocaustessay@nova.edu. Please include your full name and a desciption of the problem, and we will get back to you. If you need immediate assistance during business hours (M-F 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.), you may call (954) 262-8185.
  6. Can I submit more than one piece to the contest?
    Yes. Each student may enter a maximum of 1 piece in each of the 3 categories:
    essay/poem
    visual art piece
    short film
    You may not submit more than one piece in a single category.
  7. Can I work with one or more of my classmates/friends on my submission?
    Your friends, family, and classmates may contribute to your piece, but you are the sole author or artist. Your entry should be your own original idea inspired by the Holocaust survivor testimonial you selected. If your piece is selected as a winning entry, only you will be recognized as the winner. There is a place on the application form for you to acknowledge those who contributed to your piece (e.g., as actors in your film).
  8. How do I identify the Holocaust testimonial that inspired my piece?
    On the application form, you will be required to include the name of the Holocaust survivor. If you found this testimonial online, you will be required to include the URL of the website. If your inspiration came from another source (not online), such as a family member's story of surviving the Holocaust, you must include this information on the application.
  9. Do I need to include the Holocaust testimonial in my piece?
    No. The testimonial serves as the inspiration for your piece, but does not need to actually be part of your original essay/poem, art piece, or film.
  10. Do I need a teacher to "sponsor" me?
    Yes. Each student applicant is required to include the name of his/her teacher (as well as the teacher's email address) on the application form.
  11. Do I need the permission of my parent or guardian?
    Yes. The application must include your parent/guardian name and email address. Your parent/guardian is also required to complete and submit the release form provided on this website. Your application and your parent/guardian release form may be submitted at different times, but both the application and the release form must be submitted correctly by the deadline.
  12. Is there a fee for entering the contest?
    No.
  13. If I am selected as a winner, am I required to attend the awards ceremony at Nova Southeastern University (in Fort Lauderdale) in March 2017?
    No.
  14. When and how will the contest winners be notified?
    The winners (and their respective parents and teachers) will be notified via email.

2015 Winners

2015 Winners

2015 contest winners pictured in Washington, D.C., during their all-expense paid trip to historical sites, including the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

High School

Helen Villarreal
John I. Leonard High School | Greenacres, FL
Visual Art | "Remembrance"

Garrett Gold
Palm Beach Central High School | Wellington, FL
Essay/Poem | "Thanking God"

Ariel Desler
University School of Nova Southeastern University | Davie, FL
Film | "Never Forget"

Middle School

Dominique Deer
Villa Madonna School | Tampa, FL
Visual Art | "The Bliss of Hope"

Elijah Bishop
Annunciation Catholic School | Jacksonville, FL
Essay/Poem | "Faith! Hope! Love!"

Nina Gulati
St. Francis Xavier Catholic School | Fort Myers, FL
Film | "The Holocaust: A Poem Collection"