ORANGE, Calif. – More than 200 middle and high schools, 120 of which are from Southern California, have participated in Chapman University’s 17th Annual Holocaust Art and Writing Contest. Many of these schools will be represented at the Awards Ceremony in Chapman’s Memorial Hall on March 4, 2016 at 11 a.m. The ceremony is not just an announcement of the winners and finalists, it is also an opportunity for students to hear and view their peers’ submissions for the contest, presented by Chapman’s Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education. The students, from public, private and parochial schools throughout Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, Ventura, and San Diego counties submitted essays, poems, films and artwork to the contest. Those works were judged by a panel of Holocaust survivors, local businesspeople, professionals, organization leaders and Chapman faculty and students.

Dr. James L. Doti, Chapman University’s president for 25 years and a strong supporter of the contest since its inception, will deliver the keynote address focusing on history as both a means of looking backward and forward.

The Holocaust Art and Writing Contest, co-sponsored with The 1939 Society, now reaches students nationally and internationally with schools in South Africa, Canada, and Poland participating in this year’s contest. Three entries from each school are chosen for contest submission. More than 5,700 students from the U.S., Canada, Poland and South Africa initially responded to the prompt to interpret oral interviews with Holocaust survivors into their own compelling works of writing, poetry and art.

The Awards Ceremony, with nearly 1,000 attendees, is anticipated to be at capacity. The seats hold young students who are learning about the Holocaust for the first time and survivors, usually in their 80s and even 90s, who experienced the events of the Holocaust at first hand. By sharing their stories—telling them forward—these witnesses are teaching and empowering a new generation to be their witnesses to the future.

“Through the video testimonies made available to students in the contest by the USC Shoah Foundation Institute and The 1939 Society, the history of the Holocaust becomes real to students as they listen to survivors recalling the events that changed their lives,” Marilyn J. Harran, Ph.D., director of the Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education and Stern Chair in Holocaust History, explains. “Through voices, faces and the power of their memories, history becomes personal and real.”

Each story is the gift of legacy, a trust to the future to carry words across the years. Over the last two decades, the contest has grown in scope – except in one area. Each year, Harran notes, the number of Holocaust survivors in attendance decreases, making the transmission of stories and memories even more vital.

The contest is presented in partnership with The 1939 Society and sponsored by the Samueli Foundation; Yossie and Dana Hollander; in cooperation internationally with The Forum for Dialogue for entries from Poland; Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre for those from South Africa; and both the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Center and The Vancouver Holocaust Education Center for those from Canada.

Following the ceremony, there is a reception where students, teachers, and Holocaust witnesses connect. Each participating student will be given a hardcover copy of The Holocaust Chronicle, donated annually since the first year of the contest by Publications International.

For more information, visit

Event is not open to the public.


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Mary Platt, APR

Director of Communications and Media Relations

Chapman University

One University Drive, Orange CA 92866

714-628-7271   @maryaplatt


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