7 Rivers student wins contest for essay on Holocaust

Bevan Breaux, a sophomore at La Crosse 7 Rivers Community High School, has won first-place in an essay contest designed to bring added meaning to studies of the Holocaust by connecting it with 21st century issues.

Logan High’s Josh Perry, 2nd place winner, with Maureen Freedland.

A Logan High School sophomore, Josh Perry, received second place and $100 in contest, sponsored by the Maureen and Robert Freedland Fund for Studies of the Shoah.

Bevan Breaux, a sophomore at 7 Rivers Community High School, receives his first-place award, and check for $250, from Maureen Freedland.

Bevan, son of Richard Breaux and Deborah-Eve Lombard, was awarded the $250 first prize. In his essay, Bevan referenced recent political debates about banning certain Muslim immigrants and the possible large-scale deportation of undocumented immigrants with Hispanic heritage. His essay read in part:

“… To think that in the United States we are issuing laws to try to push out people who some see as unfit to live here is completely unsettling. … People are people, no matter your gender, your race, your religion, or any other way to split up people. We are stuck on this planet and at some point we have to find a way to get along.”

Read the full essay here

The Maureen and Robert Freedland Fund is an endowment established at the La Crosse Community Foundation in 2007. Annual proceeds support grants awarded by the La Crosse Public Education Foundation to help students to advance their understanding of the Shoah, the systematic genocide against the Jewish people and other “undesirable” groups targeted for destruction by the Nazis in World War II. In addition to exposing students to the history of the Shoah, teachers are encouraged to help students to recognize the events and beliefs that made the Shoah possible and relate them to events around the world affecting people of many nationalities and religious beliefs. Essay contest prizes were provided through a separate gift from Maureen and Robert Freedland.

“Study of the Holocaust is an important way to look at topics of current domestic and international significance that call for discussion today,” said Maureen Freedland. “This year, students showed keen interest in analyzing our country’s own immigration policies, the refugee crises worldwide and the role of the media in shaping opinions.”

Freedland added: “We are pleased that through our grants and essay contest that students have additional opportunities to engage in important study of history as they become adults who will face contemporary challenges calling for critical thinking.”

Click here or more information about the Shoah Studies grants, or here for details on the essay contest. Or contact the LPEF office at 787-0226.

Maureen Freedland speaks to students at 7 Rivers Community High School prior to announcing winners of the 2017 essay contest.

Maureen Freedland draws a parallel between Jewish refugees – including her father – fleeing Eastern Europe to escape the Nazis, with the current-day refugee crisis of Syrians fleeing their country in hopes of a better life in Europe or elsewhere.

7 Rivers students who entered the essay contest received books from Maureen Freedland (at far right). From left are students: Dylan Arndt, Gillian Smith, Angeli Engel, Victoria Knutson and Devan Breaux.