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Student Leadership Day for 7th & 8th Graders

Below is information about our 2023 7th-8th Grade Student Leadership Day!

Our intensive Student Leadership Day programming engages students in 7th – 8th grades with captivating, world-class Upstander speakers, interactive programs, and the opportunity to create an action plan to take back to their school. Student Leadership Day inspires the change-makers to build leadership skills, explore their roles as citizens, and develop a deeper understanding of the Holocaust, genocide, and other human rights issues. Students return to their communities with the tools and drive to promote acceptance and understanding. This year’s program will particularly highlight the Museum’s special exhibition The Negro Motorist Green Book.

We invite you to nominate up to ten of your 7th – 8th grade students to participate in this powerful day. There is no cost for students to participate. Please note, we are offering two formats: virtual on zoom and onsite programs.

Dates & Times

Choose from two dates and formats:

ONSITE PROGRAM at Illinois Holocaust Museum, 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie IL 60077

Wednesday, February 22, 9:00am – 2:30pm CT ON-SITE IS AT CAPACITY


Thursday, February 23, 11:30am – 3:00pm CT

Participating schools will be invited to apply for a start-up grant to help fund materials needed to carry out their action plan. Application guidelines will be provided to participating schools in late February.

Keynote Speaker

Sherman Dilla Thomas

Voted Chicago Reader Magazine’s 2021 Best Chicago Tiktok account and Best Chicago Twitter account, Shermann “Dilla” Thomas is public historian who is changing the game. Dilla, as he is affectionately called, is a fascinating blend of modern historian, cultural worker, and public employee. A life-long resident of Chicago’s south side Auburn-Gresham neighborhood and an employee of Chicago area power utility ComEd since 2011, Dilla began making Tik-Tok videos in an effort to bond with one of his 7 children. What started as a way to engage with his children, has lead to Dilla becoming an award winning historian and social media influencer for the city of Chicago and beyond. Dilla is a name given to him by his mother. Although Dilla’s focus is aimed squarely at underexposed aspects of all of Chicago, expressing it from a Black perspective at times, his work continually reveals the rich tapestry of Chicago’s overall history. Anchored in the background as son of a policemen, Dilla’s philosophy is “Everything Dope about America comes from Chicago, the greatest city on earth.”

How to Nominate a Student

Nominations will be reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis in the order in which they are received. The nomination period will close when capacity for the program is reached or on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, at 5:00pm CT, whichever is first. We recommend you submit your nominations as soon as possible.

Participating schools will be invited to apply for a start-up grant to help fund materials needed to carry out their action plan. Application guidelines will be provided to participating schools in late February.

Nomination Guidelines

  • Students in grades 7-8 in accredited schools or homeschools are eligible to participate.
  • Students should have a sincere interest in enhancing their knowledge of the Holocaust, genocide, and/or human rights issues.
  • Students should have shown an interest in leadership at school or in their communities, or have shown an interest in creating social awareness. Schools are particularly encouraged to nominate students who are not yet leaders in their schools, but who have the potential to be. Suggested nomination criteria available by request.
  • Students should be willing to actively participate in discussion and activities, meet new people and become student ambassadors for the Illinois Holocaust Museum when they return to school or their respective communities.
  • Students must stay for the entire day.
  • A teacher or administrator must accompany the students so that there is follow-through back at the school site. (Limit 2 teachers/chaperones per school.)

Nomination Letter Instructions

Nominate up to 10 students in grades 7th-8th to participate in Student Leadership Day. You should include a clear explanation of why you feel the nominated students should participate in the day. Schools are encouraged to nominate non-traditional student leaders who may particularly benefit from this opportunity. Please note: A maximum of 10 students per school are permitted. Please consult with your colleagues before submitting your nomination letter.

Presenting Sponsor of Student Leadership Days:

Education Services are supported with generous grants from: Paul M. Angell Family Foundation; Bank of America, The Bill Bass Foundation; Dr. Scholl Foundation; Full Circle Foundation; Leah Gutman Education Fund; Max and Sunny Howard Memorial Foundation, Niles Township Government; PNC; Regions Bank, Charles & M.R. Shapiro Foundation; State Farm, Steans Family Foundation, Women’s Leadership Committee of the Illinois Holocaust Museum.

Additional endowment support is provided by: The Mayor Richard M. and Maggie C. Daley Education Fund; The Harvey L. Miller Family Foundation Program Endowment Fund; Moselle Mintz Schwartz Education Fund; Barney & Anita Sidler Educational Endowment; Teachers Educational Endowment Fund

Photo credits: Robin Subar

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