by Joe Piasecki, Pasadena Sun
and Timothy Rutt
Chandler School seventh grader Corah Forrester of Altadena got a chance to hobnob with Hollywood royalty Wednesday, as Steven Spielberg paid an unannounced visit to her school.
Forrester is in a class called "I Witness" at Chandler, which discusses the Holocaust and uses an online tool to link students to recorded survivor's testimonies from the USC Shoah Foundation. The foundation has recorded nearly 52,000 interviews with Holocaust survivors and recently posted much of that content online for use by classroom teachers. Chandler is one of three Los Angeles area schools currently using the tool.
The USC Shoah Foundation was created in 1994 by producer/director Steven Spielberg, who directed "Schindler's List." Marking the 20th anniversary of the film and its release on Blu-Ray, Spielberg visited Chandler to launch the the online initiative internationally, using video and internet technology to teach about the Holocaust.
The foundation’s IWitness Video Challenge provides tools for middle and high school students to create their own short films about Holocaust survivors and how that testimony inspires them to work for positive social change. Videos by Forrester, 12, and two students at Los Angeles schools were screened during the event.
The assignment was to choose one of the testimonies and create a poem using words from it and create a short (2 minute) video. Corah said her project, about a woman who was carried out of Auschwitz by a crying soldier when the Red Army liberated prisoners of the Nazi death camp, emphasized “the importance of caring and helping people out when they’re in a struggle and when they need help.”
Corah's mom, Lisa Sylvester, emailed Altadenablog: "As you can imagine, it was kept pretty hush-hush about his appearance and NO parents were there!!!"