To Foster Perseverance, Look To The Past


Natalie Kozhemiakin, Brimmer and May School

NESPA Winner: Bylined Column, 2022

The Gator, Brimmer and May School, Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Before realization set in, the lights illuminating the German sky felt like Christmas to young Christa Hollinger.

“It made me so excited. I would see beautiful, vibrant lights up in the sky,” Hollinger, now Katsenes, recounts. “Then, all of a sudden, my parents looked very scared. They rushed my siblings and me in the house, and my father closed the curtains.”

Her imagination was quickly curtailed as the seemingly celebratory glow was revealed to have much more ominous intentions. Indeed, danger was looming. Casting their light from above were Nazi fighter pilots preparing to bomb their own land. Their attack, which aimed to destroy local infrastructure, was a desperate effort to slow the advance of the Allied troops on German soil.

“We all knew, at that moment, what was in store. We all knew that our area would be bombed,” Katsenes said.

On the very last day of World War II, a Nazi bombing of a nearby bridge left Christa Katsenes’ life forever altered. The blast demolished her house and school, resulting in the death of her youngest sister and multiple injuries, including the loss of her mother’s eye.


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