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Jan Karski’s Birthday Celebrated at the Jan Karski Polish School

Students of the Jan Karski Polish School in Palos Heights, IL, celebrate Karski’s birthday. (Photo: Courtesy of Marek Adamczyk) Students of the Jan Karski Polish School in Palos Heights, IL, celebrate Karski’s birthday. (Photo: Courtesy of Marek Adamczyk)

Palos Heights, IL—The Jan Karski Polish School in Palos Heights takes every opportunity to promote the Karski legacy, but the school always observes Karski’s birthday* in a special way. On this occasion, the teachers and the school administration remind the students about the life and mission of the Polish superhero.

This year, the school celebrated 104th Karski’s birthday on April 14. On that day, the school’s entrance greeted everyone with a smiling face of the Polish 007, which was placed on a banner. The teacher devoted considerable instruction time to Jan Karski and Irena Sendler, a nurse and social worker during WWII, who saved hundreds of Jewish children by smuggling them from the Warsaw Ghetto and providing them with shelter and false documents. By the declaration of the Polish parliament, the year 2018 was proclaimed the Year of Irena Sendler.

The commemorative lessons included presentations of an educational packet, movies, maps, and archival footage. Students read the graphic novel Karski’s Mission: To Stop the Holocaust by Rafael Medoff and Dean Motter, a gift from the Jan Karski Educational Foundation. Teachers and students engaged in the discussion about the situation in Poland and around the world during WWII. As always, students, especially the younger ones, were particularly interested in the animated film about Karski Messenger from Hell, made by Disney Educational Productions. Teachers and students proudly displayed on their chests the stickers “Karski My Hero,” also a gift from the Jan Karski Educational Foundation.

“All our activities were designed to present and enrich the students’ knowledge and understating of what the Humanity Hero stands for,” said Marek Adamczyk, Principal Assistant at the Jan Karski Polish School. “After reading the beautiful and mature comments the students wrote for their homework a week later, I can be certain, our goal has been achieved.”  

On of the students wrote: “The most important virtue both Jan Karski and Irena Sendler had, is humbleness. Although they were both intelligent, they did not brag but thought about other people and defended them. I would like to have this virtue and be humble in everything I do.” Another student mentioned “persistence and sensitivity to human misfortune, because it means helping others without caring about oneself, about money or recognition. I think these two figures are ideal role models.”

Marek Adamczyk contributed to this report.

*There is a difference of opinion on the actual date of his birthday, but most people who have researched it use April 24.