By Steve Williams, Executive Director One of the things I’ve always loved about being a…
Anne Frank’s diary is one of the most influential and well-known of the modern world. Anne gave the world a personal experience of the Holocaust that was made more powerful and poignant by her delicate age, the circumstances under which she wrote, and the exceptional quality of her writing.
While most of us have read The Diary of Anne Frank, few are aware that Anne also wrote fiction and essays while she hid from the Nazis in the secret annex in occupied Amsterdam. These include short stories, fables, personal reminiscences, vignettes, and an unfinished novel.
Anne wrote many of these stories from September 1943 through May 1944 in a notebook called Verhaaltjesboek, or “Storybook.” She loved writing fiction, perhaps as counterpoint to the difficult reality of her life:
A break in my sketches about life in the Annex. A few weeks ago I started writing a story, something I made up from beginning to end, and I’ve enjoyed it so much that the products of my pen are piling up (The Diary of Anne Frank: The Revised Critical Edition, Doubleday, 1986; rpt. 2001: 728).
In one of these works, an essay called “Give,” Anne displays a wonderful, childlike optimism for making the world a better place—all the more powerful given the persecution and mistreatment that she was experiencing. Anne states unequivocally that everyone is born equal and has a right to kindness. She asks: “Why can’t people who have more than enough for their own needs give the rest to their fellow human beings? Why should anyone have to have such a hard life for those few short years on earth?” (Tales from the Secret Annex, Bantam,1982; rpt. 2003: 120).
Anne identifies the remedy for the problems of the world as kindness. She encourages everyone to give whatever they can to others in need. She notes that, regardless of circumstances, everyone has the capacity to extend kindness to others:
How wonderful it is that everyone, great and small, can immediately help bring about justice by giving of themselves! (Tales, 121)
In the spirit of Anne’s hope and confidence for the future, WSD has adopted a phrase from “Give” as its theme for the 2017-18 school year:
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment
before starting to improve the world.
The 2017-18 Theme reflects WSD’s emphasis this school year on the values expressed in the WSD Honor Code, the rollout of a school-wide character program called “The Wapiti Way,” continued use of Wonder Grove instruction in social and life skills for Kindergarten through 2nd grade, the addition of WonderMedia digital production to support the teaching of core values for 3rd through 8th grade students, and the infusion of Mindfulness training throughout the school.
We look forward to a school year in a community where “all members treat each other with respect, courtesy, kindness, and in a way that acknowledges the dignity of each person” (WSD Honor Code).
We thank you for entrusting your children to us for much of their personal, cultural, and intellectual education, and look forward to working with you as strong partners in that endeavor.
Frank, Anne. The Diary of Anne Frank: The Revised Critical Edition. New York: Doubleday, 1986; rpt. 2001.
Frank, Anne. Tales from the Annex: A Collection of Her Short Stories, Fables, and Lesser-Known Writings. New York: Bantam Dell, 1982; rpt. 2003.