Essay Prep & Research

Learn More About the Holocaust

Follow these links to view an animated map, and read two articles about the Holocaust:

Learn More about Rescuers

The rescuers featured below exemplify moral courage. Follow at least two of the links below to learn more about them:

Choosing a Topic

Choose and research an individual or group that demonstrated moral courage in an historic or current event. Be sure to discuss the topic with your teacher. Your topic may include individuals or groups in historical events such as:

  • Rescuers of victims of the Holocaust
  • Civil Rights movement activists
  • Literary subjects dealing with moral courage
  • A historical topic covered in your classroom
  • Genocide in Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia, Darfur, Sudan, Kenya, the Congo, Zimbabwe or Chechnya

You may choose to explore an area not mentioned here - any persons or groups from history that have shown great moral courage. If you have questions, please direct them to

Now that you have watched/read the selections above, and selected the subject of your essay, complete this reflection sheet before moving on:

Basic Essay Requirements

Using the Holocaust as the historical backdrop, this essay requires that students:

  1. Explore the chosen historical event/example, including making a connection to the Holocaust if writing about another topic.
  2. Express a deep personal connection to the person or group chosen. What about this example speaks to you? Why is this example important? Even though you may not experience life under tyranny or in a war zone - how might the lessons of your chosen example be applied in your own life, school, or family?
  3. Use multiple, reputable sources to gain a balanced and fuller understanding of the subject.
  4. Demonstrate how the chosen individual/group took a stand against social injustice and exhibited moral courage, defined here:

Moral courage is the ability to take a strong stance on a specific issue and to defend it based on one’s personal beliefs or convictions regardless of danger or threats to personal safety - physical, emotional or otherwise.

TIPS FOR A WINNING ESSAY!!! (Click to see them.)

Past Essay Contest Winners

Now that you’ve begun your research, picked your topic and know what the requirements are - you can look over these select winners from recent years to see how they wrote their essays, and get an idea of what judges are looking for (all in PDF). These essays do not follow the current formatting requirements, please make sure to review formatting rules for your essay! 

9th-10th Grade

Sara Cohen, Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, Omaha, NE

Tenley Kahl, Burke High School, Omaha, NE

Andrew J. Martinez, Burke High School, Omaha, NE

Emily Baratta, VJ & Angela Skutt Catholic High School, Omaha, NE

Marie Wagner, VJ & Angela Skutt High School, Omaha, NE

Jessica Grimmond, Burke High School, Omaha, NE

Joon Park, Mount Michael Benedictine, Elkhorn, NE

11th-12th Grade

Tamerea Marion, Central High School, Omaha, NE

Eddie Schooler, Central High School, Omaha, NE

Zachery Taylor, Central High School, Omaha, NE

Patrick Nolan, Central High School, Omaha, NE

Audrey Luo, Watchung Hills Regional High School, Warren, NJ

Ryan Wood, Central High School, Omaha, NE