Several Oak Ridge students were recently named as winners in the statewide 2023 Mira Kimmelman ‘Learning from the Holocaust’ Contest sponsored by the Tennessee Holocaust Commission and the Kimmelman family.

The team of Shawntice Conley, Krystal Gomora, Renji Hua, and Michael Wang earned third place in the Middle School Visual Arts Category. Their project was a 3-D box featuring symbolic representations of the persecution of the Jewish people juxtaposed with messages of Nazi propaganda. At the center was a figure of the late Mira Kimmelman, a Holocaust survivor who resided in Oak Ridge and the namesake of the contest. Their contest entry stated, “We decided to highlight Mira Kimmelman as our prime example in the box because unlike Mira, many Jews or people from other groups that were persecuted may have experienced something similar but did not survive or have the strength to tell their story.” Quotations from Mira’s book Echoes from the Holocaust were posted on the walls inside the box.

A second team received an Honorable Mention. Asher Earles, Jaiden Russell, Emmalynn Starnes, and Eleanor Valentino created a prototype of an art display depicting Mira Kimmelman’s journey through the Holocaust, culminating with her move to America and ultimately Oak Ridge.
Each group created the project as part of the Holocaust/WWII PBL unit work in Dr. Julie Kinder-McMillan’s eighth grade English Language Arts class at Robertsville Middle School. As part of the PBL process, these two groups, as well as several others, presented their projects before a formal panel of community experts including Rhonda Bogard, friend of Mira Kimmelman, Steve Reddick, retired Jefferson Middle School teacher and Tennessee Holocaust Commission Teacher Fellow, and Melanie Kosko, Oak Ridge Schools Literacy Coordinator. Students on these winning teams are now freshmen at Oak Ridge High School.

The contest, in honor of late Holocaust survivor Mira Kimmelman who made her home in Oak Ridge and recounted her experiences in her memoir, was started in 2021. Categories include Community College Visual Arts, High School Essay, High School Visual Arts, Middle School Essay, and Middle School Visual Arts. Information about the 2024 contest, as well as more information about the winning projects, is located at