Aaron Elster, a Holocaust survivor who has made history come alive for thousands of Stevenson High School students by sharing his experiences, will be honored at the school on Friday, May 11.
Elster will receive the Heritage Award, which is given annually to people who have made a significant impact on District 125.
Since its inception in the 1985-86 academic year, Heritage Award recipients have included former faculty and staffers, community members and alumni.
Elster, a Lincolnshire resident, speaks each year to the entire junior class at Stevenson about what it was like to be a child caught in the Holocaust. Students are affected not only by his story, but also by his message of hope, perseverance and respect for humanity.
When his ghetto in Sokolow, Poland, was destroyed in 1942, Elster, who was then 9 years old, fled to escape being placed in a concentration camp.
He spent the final two years of World War II living in an attic. After the war, he lived in several orphanages throughout Poland, and eventually he was smuggled out of the country into West Germany.
He came to the United States in 1947, eventually moving to Lincolnshire. Elster's experiences are recounted in his book, "I Still See Her Haunting Eyes."
While his words are powerful, Elster also has worked tirelessly to promote peace and understanding. He has dedicated much of his life to teaching the lessons of the Holocaust to ensure that such barbarity never happens again.
He served as co-chairman and vice president of the executive board at the Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois, where he leads discussions and presentations.
His contributions to the community were highlighted when he was given special mention during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's invocation of the museum in 2009.
The Heritage Award ceremony will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Room 2104 of the West Building at Stevenson.