NFA World: Speaker relates experience in Rwanda during ’94 genocide



Emmanuel Habimana survived the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. He spoke about it to 450 students Dec. 9. The event was funded by a grant from the Connecticut Education Association and organized by social studies teacher Joel Farrior, of Montville. Habimana also spoke at Leonard J. Tyl Middle School and at Springfield College.

“It is one thing to know what happened in Rwanda in 1994. It is entirely another to hear the voice and look into the eyes and shake the hand of someone who was there,” said Mark Gudgel, fellow of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and author of “Accessing Darfur.”

Students listened to Habimana’s story and testimony.  “Genocide is not easily felt through statistics, but when we hear stories we can begin to understand,” said Habimana, who is co-director of a documentary funded by the National Geographic Society called “The Children Who Lived,” which details the lives of orphan survivors in post-genocide Rwanda.  Watch the official trailer on YouTube.

Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica, the Spanish National Honor Society, and world language teachers Ellen DeLeon and Alfredo Poletti have been busy with recent social action projects. Society students wrote cards and decorated, packed and sent Thanksgiving care packages to 92 soldiers deployed overseas. 1st Sgt. Corey Lewis, father of member lower Chelsea Lewis, assisted with contact information, regulations and shipping arrangements.

Students expressed admiration for the dedication and sacrifice of soldiers, who in many cases are not much older than the students themselves. In return, students have received letters and pictures from some of the soldiers.

On Dec. 4, students helped cook, serve and clean at lunch at St. Mark’s Church Soup kitchen and donated jars of peanut butter and jelly to those receiving meals there.

NFA’s Book Club and its adviser, Elina van den Berg, guidance department administrative assistant, have just finished a book drive to raise money for the library. About 40 titles were added to the library shelves, and book sales raised $150 for new purchases. A selection of titles was donated to St. Vincent de Paul Place.

NFA READS! again offers students the chance to order, at no cost, one of 18 titles to read during the daily, 20-minute, silent independent reading program. There is fiction, non-fiction, a short-story collection and young-adult and adult choices.

Access the list on the NFA website; click on the current students tab at the top of the home page, and follow the link on the right to NFA READS! There, find book cover images; click on any image to read a summary of the book. Students will order titles in homeroom Monday for delivery after midyear exams. After reading their books, students may swap titles with friends or at the book cart in the library.

In cooperation with the College Board, NFA offers two SAT preparation programs. The first is access to a self-directed and paced online program of 10 tests, 18 lessons and personalized essay scoring. It usually costs $69.95 but is available at an NFA price of $25 for an online license valid through January. The second option is 12 teacher-guided instructional sessions, from 2:30 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. beginning Jan. 24 in campus computer labs with online lessons. The NFA cost is $90. Both programs are ideal for uppers who will take the SAT in the spring; lowers are encouraged to begin SAT prep early. For more information, contact a guidance counselor or the curriculum office at (860) 425-5508 or at

The Slater Museum’s 68th Annual Connecticut Artists Juried Exhibition returns in 2012. Now elevator accessible, the 3,600-square-foot Converse Art Gallery housing temporary exhibitions has received a new roof and interior paint. Submission deliveries for the exhibition will be accepted from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 4 and 5. Information and instructions, including a new access route to the gallery, are available at

Award winners of the Annual Connecticut Artists Juried Exhibition have included established and emerging artists across Connecticut. Cash prizes are awarded according to the judge’s discretion. Through a special gift from the Katherine Forest Crafts Foundation, this exhibition will include a special award for excellence in textile art.

Slater’s holiday hours are: closes at noon Dec. 23 and 30; open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 27 through Dec. 29 and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 31; closed Jan. 1-2 and resumes normal hours Jan. 3.
School will be dismissed at noon Friday. There is no school Dec. 24 through Jan. 2; classes resume Jan. 3. Security staff will be on campus as normal, and any special activities will take place as scheduled. The NFA calendar, hours and days of operation are on the school website.

Final thought: James Keller tells us, “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.”

Geoff Serra is head of the English department at NFA. Email



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