are two powerful reasons why the Simon Wiesenthal Center, through
its innovative Mobile Museum of Tolerance, and the Illinois
Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools (IARSS) are
teaming up to raise awareness and encourage children and families to
get more informed and active in the fight against the dangerous mix
of hatred and technology.
The organizations are sponsoring a statewide essay contest called
Your Voice: Changing the World, One Speech at a Time, for students
from 6th through 12th grade asking participants to respond to these
words from Simon Wiesenthal: “The combination of hatred and
technology is the greatest danger threatening mankind.” Submissions
are due April 3, and winning entries receive a MacBook or other
ABOUT THE PARTNERSHIP
IARSS and the Simon Wiesenthal Center have been working together for
several years, including coordinating a highly successful visit in
2021 to the State Capitol by the Mobile Museum of Tolerance to show
the power of the bus and its high-tech approach to education.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, headquartered in Los
Angeles, runs a number of programs out of its Midwest Office in
Chicago. The Midwest Office partners with law enforcement agents to
educate officers about hate-based threats, coordinates visits to
numerous school districts across the state where state legislators
often attend to learn more about the MMOT, and run a number of
workshops designed to help students and adults better identify and
stand up to hate and intolerance in their communities.
The MMOT is a traveling human rights education center – the first of
its kind in the United States – that visits school districts
statewide, free of charge, to offer hands-on workshops for
participating students. The workshops include an emphasis on our
nation’s civil rights movement and history, the harrowing story of
Nazi persecution through Anne Frank’s experience in World War II,
the power of ordinary people to stand up against life-threatening
hatred, and an introduction to digital media literacy.
Media literacy is now mandated to be taught in Illinois schools.
Under the MMOT digital media literacy program, students receive
tools to identify and analyze potentially harmful media, stand up
against hate and violence online, and work through ways to be a
positive influence on social media.
IARSS continues working with the Simon Wiesenthal Center on ways to
bring that digital media literacy curriculum to schools around
Illinois. The essay contest partnership helps advance that work.
ABOUT THE ESSAY CONTEST
Simon Wiesenthal was a survivor of the Nazi death camps in World War
II who dedicated his life to documenting Holocaust crimes and
working to hold those accountable for ghastly genocide. His words
for future generations often have proven hauntingly prophetic,
including about the tools we all use today with little thought to
how they are used by those determined to carry on traditions of
hatred and intolerance.
“The combination of hatred and technology is the
greatest danger threatening mankind.”
IARSS and the Simon Wiesenthal Center are using their
strong networks across Illinois to urge students from 6th through
12th grade to share their thoughts about this quote. Your Voice
contest participants should:
Write a three-minute written speech (of 450 words
maximum) on how this Wiesenthal quote applies to them, their
communities, their world, today and in the future.
[to top of second column]
Look in the past to learn from the darkest days of
human history and show how we all can work together to address
intolerance, hate, and bigotry.
Submit the speech/essay in a Word document by Monday, April 3, 2023,
Submissions must include a separate sheet of paper
with: name and age of contestant, name of contestant’s school, and
contact details for the contestant.
Five finalists from each category (Grades 6-8 and Grades 9-12) will
be chosen to compete virtually on Sunday, May 7, 2023, by performing
their speech/essay in video submissions virtually.
A distinguished panel of judges will review the
submissions and select a winner.
The judges are:
Scott Britton, Cook County Commissioner. Commissioner Britton serves
on 10 committees as a member of the Cook County Board, where he
focuses on building equity into all County operations and supports
furthering public safety reform. He launched the Cook County United
Against Hate initiative.
Ava Carpenter-McPike, Springfield. Ava is a senior probation officer
who works with disadvantaged youth in our criminal justice system
who don’t always get the fairness they deserve. She is a member of
the Springfield Black Chamber of Commerce and chairs the Gender
Responsive Committee of the Illinois Probation Court Services
Franci Feirstein, Content Producer at WMAQ TV NBC
The two sponsoring organizations say the contest is another
important way to remind Illinoisans of the dangers of complacency
toward very real threats online.
“We see everyday examples where parents inherently trust the social
media or apps their children are using, and never even think about
the subtle or obvious ways hate groups and individuals can reach
their kids and plant devastating seeds,” said Alison Pure-Slovin,
Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Midwest Region. “We know
the only effective way to combat hate and intolerance is to take it
head on, and we hope the essay contest helps students across the
state do their part to fight for the freedoms we too often take for
granted,” said Jacqueline Carroll, Director, MMOT.
Our mission as leaders of support offices for school districts is to
help foster safe, thought-provoking environments to challenge
students to learn and grow,” said Mark Klaisner, IARSS President and
Executive Director of West40 Intermediate Service Center in
Chicago’s near-western suburbs. “We are excited to work with Simon
Wiesenthal Center and the MMOT to help students better identify
threats and arm them with the tools and knowledge to do better, and
this essay contest seems like a great step forward in that work
For more on the essay contest and the MMOT, visit the MMOT’s website
[Ryan Keith, RK PR Solutions]