OPHS Grassroots Club spreads positive and influential message with “A Visual Diary of the Past”

The work of David Labkovski highlights experiences of the Holocaust

The Oak Park High School Grassroots Club held an event showcasing a visual representation of the past of David Labkovski, a Holocaust survivor, at the Oak Park Library back patio from April 17 to 21. This exhibit was in commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The purpose of the David Labkovski Project is to inspire positive change in the OPHS community, learning the value of acceptance from Labkovski’s works. Speakers will also be coming to OPHS to share their experiences and ideas. Leora Raikin, founder and director of the DLP, spoke to students about Labkovski’s words on April 20 in room G-9. Additionally, David Lenga, a Polish Holocaust survivor, spoke at the event and shared his experiences in the Holocaust on April 21 in room G-9. 

“As a student docent for the DLP, I have seen how people intimately and emotionally connect to Labkovski’s works. I think that when people see the harms of intolerance, they think twice about making a hateful or insensitive comment. I hope that after viewing the DLP exhibit, people come away wanting to make the Oak Park community a kinder and more accepting place,” Aliza Lam, a senior Grassroots Club member who organized this event, said.

David Labkovski highlights the witness testimonies of Holocaust survivors in his paintings, depicting his experience of the Holocaust that is corroborated with many other people. Although some of the paintings may feature heavy topics, the exhibit has an overall positive message, empowering people to take action to spread kindness within their community.

“The exhibit takes you through Labkovski’s life from his childhood in Vilna, the hardships he faced in the Siberian Gulag, how the Holocaust destroyed the people and town of Vilna, Lithuania, and how Labkovski recovered from this trauma in Israel,” Lam said.

The students that worked on this event have done so tirelessly to demonstrate Labkovski’s perseverance. Two student teams were formed to help the event come together: a creative team and a public relations team. The teams promoted the event on social media to raise awareness, put together the contents of the exhibit, and so much more. 

“In addition to that, I have done a lot of work coordinating with different people for the exhibit. Mrs. Hankins and I worked with OPHS administration to figure out the location for the exhibit. We also met with MCMS teachers and administration to get the middle school involved,” Lam said.

Members of the Grassroots club put in the effort to make this event come to life and in the end, the preparations for this event made it successful. 

“I feel really joyful that we were able to bring it [the event] to life and invite many classes. It was definitely a huge success,” junior creative committee member of the Grassroots Club Priscilla Vargas said.