Soddy-Daisy High School Honors English students are preparing a film of a recent symposium on "The Sunflower" by Simon Wiesenthal to be distributed via video across Tennessee.
SDHS television and technology class teacher Glen Bolin filmed the students and the Tennessee Holocaust Commission in order to make the video and lesson plan available to high schools across the state.
"The symposium is on the possibilities and limitations of forgiveness," said SDHS Honors English teacher Trevor Fuller, adding that a panel of professionals and his Honors English class participants put themselves in the shoes of a Jew in the film to decide whether or not to forgive a Nazi for war crimes against humanity. "The book the symposium is based on, 'The Sunflower,' retells author Simon Wiesenthal's story of being brought to the bedside of a dying German Nazi soldier who wishes to confess his crimes and ask for forgiveness from a single Jew."
Fuller said at the end of the story Simon shares how he responded to the dying man's request, and then turns the table on the readers and asks what they would do in his situation. He said great thinkers from diverse backgrounds have attempted to answer that question, from former presidents to the Dalai Lama.
He said panelists responding to that question filmed at the symposium include Executive Director of the Holocaust Commission Danielle Kaminsky, Grace Calvary Chapel's the Rev. Tim Millsaps, Holy Spirit Catholic Church's the Rev. Al Humbrecht, American Diversity Report Chief Editor Deborah Levine, Hixson attorney John Meldorf and financial advisor Cliff Gould.
Freshman students in Fuller's Honors English class participated in the filmed symposium and will serve as teachers for fellow students across the state. The students are still wrestling with whether or not to forgive the soldier, Fuller said.
SDHS freshman Caleb Perez said it was interesting to see people's different perspectives. He said some people had the same answer but thought differently about it. Freshman Chloe Mitchell said she thought it was 'cool' how personal backgrounds depict how people forgive. SDHS freshman Laura Maynard said Christianity is based on forgiveness, so faith could play a role in whether or not someone would forgive the soldier.
"Later, we went back and forth between the panel and the students, discussing important issues and other questions raised in the book," said Fuller. "This is a great lesson for my students because it requires real thinking coupled with a little soul searching to arrive at their answers."
He said in this one unit he is able to assess reading, writing, oral presentation and the use of digital media. But more importantly, he said it's a life lesson that he believes the students will carry with them from this point forward.
"This meant a lot to my kids and I'm very proud of their hard work," Fuller said.