Teens, Technology and a Treasured Friendship Rekindled

19 May

I recently read an article in the Chicago Tribune that warmed my heart and challenged me to  embrace even more deeply the convictions of  teens who believe that “ nothing is impossible. “ I applaud each teen that may be challenged to embrace a cause, and  then work diligently to make a life changing difference in another’s life.

A school librarian at Madison Junior High in Naperville, Illinois was investigating a forthcoming author visit to compliment a unit on the Holocaust.  During her research, she learned that Fern Schumer Chapman, had written an historical fiction book that chronicled her mother’s childhood experience with the One Thousand Children  program.  This initiative was a “quiet underground movement that facilitated the removal of small groups of children from Germany”, and then place them with families in the United States.  “Ten children at a time were shipped out of Germany on cruise ships.”

When she was 12, Chapman’s mother, Edith, met Gerda, another young girl on one of the ships,   and they became good friends.  After arriving in New York, Edith was sent to Chicago and Gerda was sent to Oregon to be reunited with extended family.  Edith had always carried a deep love for Gerda and always dreamed of reuniting with her friend.  Somehow, life got in the way, and as each grew into adulthood, they never gave up hope that they would eventually met again.

After Chapman’s presentation at the junior high school, the Social Science teacher expressed to her class that “each time that she teaches the Holocaust, she always wished there was something she could do.”  One of the students stood up and boldly stated, “Why can’t we find her?”  The students were deeply touched, so with the assistance of the school librarian and their teachers, they formulated an action plan, and then embarked on a journey of discovery.  They spent days doing research in the school Library, immersing themselves into the digital world of research.

Kudos to our school and public librarians for your tireless resolve to be an advocate for teens and to provide open access to information.  Teaching students how to effectively navigate through library databases may appear to be arduous and draining especially after you have rendered that same presentation to multiple classes in a single day.  Just when you think that no one is listening, remember those eighth students in Naperville, Illinois who embraced a cause, then worked diligently to make a difference.  A mega Shout  Out to all of those students for their resolve and for their “determination and fortitude” to reach out and change the world. These tenacious individuals were instrumental in reuniting two friends after a 73 year hiatus, but more importantly, they stamped their digital footprints on that World History canvass. In the process, they made it all come alive.



Kmitch, Justin. (2011 May 13). Naperville students reunite two women after 73 years. Daily Herald. Retrieved from

Madison Junior High School Students Use Social Networking To Reunite Holocaust Survivors. Huffington Post. Retrieved from

Swasko, Mike. (2011 May 15).  Naperville students reconnect women who fled Nazis in 1938  Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from

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Posted by on May 19, 2011 in Article


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