Middle School Student Leaders

HHREC Middle School Human Rights Institute 2023

The Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center hosted our 8th Annual Human Rights Institute for Middle School Student Leaders on November 15th, 16th and 17th at Congregation Emanu-El of Westchester in Rye, New York. Students and teachers from thirty public and private middle schools in the Lower Hudson-Westchester region attended. HHREC staff and area middle school teachers facilitated a breakout session on the themes of Respecting the Individual and How to Be an Upstander, and students met within groups to develop activities to implement in their schools. High School students from Byram Hills, Dobbs Ferry, John Jay (Katonah-Lewisboro) and Somers helped to facilitate the breakout sessions.

The Institute began with a keynote presentation by Sheila Arnold, CEO and Lead Performer of History’s Alive! Ms. Arnold has also performed as a Regional Storyteller at Colonial Williamsburg, the Valley Forge Teacher Institute, and at conferences across the U.S.

This program was developed to further the mission of the HHREC by laying the foundation to encourage students to become “upstanders rather than bystanders.” Participating schools included: Albert Leonard (New Rochelle); Benjamin Turner (Mount Vernon); Denzel Washington School of the Arts (Mount Vernon); Dobbs Ferry; Eastchester; Fieldstone (North Rockland); Fox Lane (Bedford); French American School; German International School; H.H. Wells (Brewster); Highlands (White Plains); Hommocks (Mamaroneck); Isaac E. Young (New Rochelle); Mahopac; Newburgh (Heritage MS, Meadow Hill Gem, South MS and Temple Academy); North Salem; Pierre Van Cortlandt (Croton—on-Hudson); Pleasantville; Port Chester; Rye Country Day School; Rye Neck; Scarsdale; Seven Bridges (Chappaqua); Somers; Westlake (Mt. Pleasant); and Woodlands (Greenburgh) middle schools.

Please contact Jeanne Claire Cotnoir, HHREC Coordinator of Student Programming at or call 914.696.0738 for further information.


2021 Middle School Human Rights Institute

Thank you so much for your very interesting event – Sheila Arnold has a great stage presence! Our students enjoyed the event so much that I am thinking of doing the same for the whole class. I did one of the breakout sessions (the one with the 7 different clips on microaggressions) and that led to a vivid and in-depth discussion.
German International School

My students thoroughly enjoyed Sheila's performance and stated that they liked that it was a "story as opposed to a lecture."  They found her completely engaging and a few of them shared that they actually thought she was a slave!  Sheila is truly amazing!
My students also had such a great discussion about microaggressions.  They were excited to share their experiences and think about ways to raise awareness in our school.
                                                                                Woodlands Middle School

My students and I wanted to thank you for putting together such an engaging presentation. The breakout room lessons lead to many meaningful insights and conversations. My students were excited to bring what they learned to the rest of the Student Organization of Leaders at the school. Thank you for a wonderful experience!
                                                                                Highlands Middle School

Thank you for preparing everything for the Middle School Institute. I'm proud of my students' participation with Sheila and in our workshops.  It's a good thing we were on our own. They had so much to say during the microaggression workshop.
Albert Leonard Middle School

I have so much to report about the Institute this year.  For Pleasantville, it was the best yet!  We had a super day and did so much high-level discussion.  We are busy developing scripts that will be videoed by the district and shared on the website for all!
                                                                                       Pleasantville Middle School