Holocaust survivor Judith Altman presents to middle school. 


Graphic by Ava Cordella '24

Judith Altman tells stories about her life during the Holocaust. Altman gave a virtual presentation to the Westport middle schools, which was both engaging and informative as it gave students a better understanding of what happened to those living during Holocaust era.

Students everywhere flip through textbooks in history class to read a 300 word summary of one of the most tragic events in history, the Holocaust. Most will recall the jarring words and big numbers, but the human tragedy and raw emotions could be lost. While classroom learning and history textbooks can provide a basic understanding of material, it cannot top the human connections made when listening to a survivor and witness of such events. 

Eighth grade students from Bedford (BMS)  and Coleytown (CMS) Middle School tuned into a live Zoom meeting with Holocaust survivor Judith Altman on May 26. 

“Our Superintendent Tom Scarice, who has prior experience working with Judith Altmann, put our team in touch with her assistant and support team,” Dr. Adam Rosen, principal of BMS, said.

The administration and the two middle schools worked together to organize a 30 minute presentation, in which 20 classrooms of students listened to Altman’s stories and asked her questions.

First of all, it’s such a rare and unique opportunity for our students to hear a Holocaust Survivor be able to tell their story. Nothing can replace hearing it from the primary source.

— Kris Szabo.

“We shared a google doc between all 20 classrooms, paused to collect students’ questions, to which Judith responded,” Dr. Rosen said. “Afterwards, each classroom of students engaged in a reflection activity; our students’ voices were shared with Judith electronically and by mail.” 

Kris Szabo, principal of CMS, acknowledges the honor it is to be able to provide such experiences.

“First of all, it’s such a rare and unique opportunity for our students to hear a Holocaust Survivor be able to tell their story,” Szabo said. “Nothing can replace hearing it from the primary source.” 

Dr. Rosen appreciates Altman’s ability to grab the attention of students and teachers with her story-telling.

“Judith’s personal message of hope and gratitude was deeply inspiring and uplifting; from the depths of unspeakable horror and war; after her liberation, Judith learned to savor every moment of her life, liberty and freedom in the United States,” Dr. Rosen said. “Judith shared that she literally kissed the ground upon arrival in the United States and does not take her life and freedom for granted.”

This presentation aligns perfectly with the social studies and language arts curriculum, as they are currently studying human rights. Olivia Saw ’26 from CMS acknowledges this as she reflects on Altman’s presentation.

“It was important because future generations can’t forget what happened during the Holocaust and the tragic horrors that happened,” Saw said. “[…] and we can avoid making the same mistakes.”

As a result of the event’s success, Dr. Rosen is eager to continue having people like Altman share her experiences with the students. 

“BMS has hosted Holocaust survivors for many years leading up to the pandemic; it’s fantastic to reboot this program with the help of Judith and her supporters,” Dr. Rosen said. “We do indeed have every intention of continuing to host Holocaust survivors for as long as possible.”

Szabo is also keen on continuing to provide presentations for students.

“I am sure it is going to be a school memory that they cherish,” Szabo said.