Seniors reflect on class trip to Holocaust Museum

Mallory Smith, News Editor

On Monday, Feb. 26, the senior class went on their annual trip to Washington, DC. The day began with a trip to Union Station, followed by trips to the Holocaust Museum and Arlington National Cemetery. “[The trip] started years ago as a real-world experience in relation to their reading of the book Night by Elie Wiesel in their senior English classes and the fact that they study the Holocaust as part of that unit,” Senior Project Coordinator Louise Géczy said.

The trip resonated with seniors, such as Natalie Berkey, leaving a lasting impression about the reality of the Holocaust, as well as the harshness of war. “The field trip to D.C. really opened up my eyes as to how real [the Holocaust] was. We learn about it in school but seeing the museum truly showed how horrible it was,” Berkey said.

Senior Qadir Ismail shared similar sentiments as Berkey. “I think that it was a really good experience. The different imagery that they showed throughout the museum helped [explain the Holocaust] and it’s better to see it than to hear about it in school because I feel like that affects a person more,” Ismail said.

In addition to arranging the trip to the Arlington National Cemetery, Géczy was able to coordinate a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where a John Carroll wreath was placed in front of the tomb.

Due to their interest in pursuing a military-related career, seniors Branyelle Carillo, Paul Diehl, Ryan Griffin, and Jonathan Kauffman were given the opportunity to present the wreath. This experience had a lasting effect on these students. “It was powerful, as well as it was symbolic,” Diehl said.

One of the chaperones for the trip was religion teacher Tom Vierheller. As a war veteran himself, Vierheller was able to appreciate the trip to D.C. on a more personal level. To him, the trip to the museum and to the cemetery signified the value of war and the fight for justice in unsettled nations.

“I think that the Arlington and Holocaust Museum Memorial Trip should not be seen as two separate events, but really in conjunction with one another,” Vierheller said, “Arlington represents those who were willing to suffer and die, and even give up the greatest thing, their own life, to fight against and overcome things like what happened in Nazi Germany and what’s happening in the Middle East now. These things happen to be addressed and taken care of by actual people.”

The field trip is funded every year by the Klein Family, owners of the Klein’s Shoprite grocery stores. Sarah Klein, class of ‘01, joined the senior class on the trip this year.

The trip reminded Klein of her time at JC and gave her a first-hand view of the influence that her family’s sponsorship has on students. “Having gone on the Holocaust trip during my senior year at John Carroll, it brought back many memories. Being able to see the seniors go through the museum and hearing how they felt about their experience, makes me know my family is making a difference by sponsoring the senior trip every year,” Klein said.

Mallory Smith is a News Editor for The Patriot and