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Thu, Feb. 20

Transfixed students and educators react to Holocaust story

Prescott Valley Charter School eighth grader Dalton Smith sits riveted by Stephen Nasser’s story of survival during the Holocaust.<br>
TribPhoto/Cheryl Hartz

Prescott Valley Charter School eighth grader Dalton Smith sits riveted by Stephen Nasser’s story of survival during the Holocaust.<br> TribPhoto/Cheryl Hartz

Stephen Nasser's story of his experiences in the Nazi death camps of WWII brought many students and teachers to tears at Prescott Valley Charter School this past Friday.

Most of them were unfamiliar with the atrocities Jewish prisoners suffered.

"It was really touching. I had seen movies, but it isn't the same," said Johnathan Sotelo, a junior.

"This is way more moving," said fellow junior Anna Volkmar as classmate Blair Gledhill solemnly nodded her agreement. "I about cried when he said his brother died in his arms."

Added Sotelo, "I'd hate to imagine losing my little brother. I love him so much."

"You hear terrible things, but when someone comes and tells the story...it's reality," Gledhill said.

Program coordinator and assistant teacher Deanna Harwin said she did cry.

"It so greatly impacted me when he said to all of us that he never felt sorry for himself. I will never forget that," said Harwin, who currently is reading Nasser's book. "In today's culture there seem to be so many individuals that feel sorry for their circumstances, and use it as an excuse."

Eighth grader Dalton Smith is a history buff whose eyes never left Nasser as he spoke.

"I was fascinated by the way he detailed it," Smith said. "I can tell he was real emotional about it. There's no way that could be a lie in my eyes.

"It was sad to hear about the genocide. It was the first time I heard of it; it was a real experience for me. I would never follow (along with) what the Nazis and SS did. His faith in God is amazing."

Junior Brian Strand's shocked reaction to Nasser's survival story was, "I couldn't do it."

Head teacher for seventh and eighth grade, John Strzepek, said listening directly to a WWII Holocaust survivor "was an opportunity that 10 years from now won't exist."

He added, "I'm glad he talked about his faith and never quitting."

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