Zoe Fanning
Zoe Fanning
A St. Clare School eighth-grader won both grand prizes in the Sala Kryszek Art & Writing competition.

Zoe Fanning will be honored by the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center during a ceremony and luncheon at 11 a.m., Sunday, May 6, at the Multnomah Athletic Club.
Sala Kryszek was a Holocaust survivor from Poland who immigrated to Oregon after World War II and made her home in Portland until her death in 1986.  Her family, together with the OHRC, created this competition in her memory. The objectives of the competition are to encourage today’s youth to evaluate history, foster an awareness of the Holocaust, broaden their minds in the areas of art, history, civics, sociology, and literature and to connect the Holocaust to events in today’s world.

This year’s contest theme was “Courage to Act.” Students were prompted with the story of Irina Gut Opdyke, a young Polish Catholic nurse who risked her life to rescue 12 Jews from the ghetto who were scheduled for deportation to a death camp.

“Not all ‘rescuers’ were in a position to help in this extraordinary way, but others were able to show their humanity in more ordinary ways,” said the application. “Soldiers turned their backs so young mothers could escape; farmers quietly left extra potatoes or milk on the doorsteps of houses where Jews were hidden; German officials quietly alerted Jewish friends or acquaintances that they would soon be arrested.”  

Students were encouraged to think about how ordinary people overcome their fear of punishment or reprisal and find the courage to risk their own safety to help others.

When Zoe heard about the competitions, she new she wanted to enter for the opportunity to express her feelings about discrimination, violence and bullying.

“I wanted to portray a message of courage. I hoped that people who would see and read the pieces would understand what it was that was wrong in their communities, and that they would try to change it for the better,” Zoe said. “All of these things led me forward, but what inspired me the most was story of the Holocaust. I hoped that through my art and writing pieces, I could capture a little glimpse of what the world would be like when people choose to stand up and be courageous.”

Zoe’s written entry, “Courage,” is a heart-wrenching piece that contrasts the life of a well-cared for little girl with perfect grades, loving parents and an easy life with the life of another child who gets bullied, who eats at the soup kitchen, who misses school to help his single mother care for his siblings.  In the conclusion, the two children’s paths converge.

“And it only took one. One word. One action. One idea. One person. To change his world,” says the girl in Zoe’s narrative, followed by the boy’s response. “And it only took one. One word. One action. One idea. One person. To change my world.”

Zoe’s art entry is a graphic design piece that visually displays the struggle for bystanders between action and silence. It shows a quote from Elie Weisel, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

Other winners from Catholic schools were: Cav Lefor, St. Clare, first prize, middle school art; Isabel Trily, St. Clare, second prize, middle school art; Lauren Covell, St. Clare, third prize, middle school art; Margot Flynn, St. Ignatius School, honorable mention, middle school art; Christine Trinh, De La Salle North Catholic High, third prize, high school writing; Blaise Johnson-Stevens, St. Clare, first prize, middle school writing; and Miriam Barnes, St. Ignatius, third prize, middle school writing.

Tickets to the luncheon are $15 and can be purchased online at www.ohrconline.org. RSVP by April 27 to 503-245-2733 or [email protected]
To read Zoe Fanning’s award-winning story, log on to www.catholicsentinel.org.