The Southern Cayuga Central School District, located in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, wishes to be considered as a site for one of seven saplings taken from the horse chestnut tree which grows near the Secret Annex in Amsterdam where Anne Frank and her family hid for over two years during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

Our request is not driven to memorialize or commemorate a past event, but instead is driven by our mission of educating children and helping them prepare to create a world better than the one they inherit from the previous generation. Like Anne Frank, the students at Southern Cayuga Middle School are preoccupied with all the day to day events of their own growing up: friendships, activities, school work, and family relationships. Also like Anne, our students are trying to understand themselves as they grow into adulthood, and understand the adult world they are entering. In this sense, our school is the perfect place for one of the saplings, as it will always be surrounded and seen by children like Anne, and will serve as a reminder of the impact each of our voices can have.

It is our hope that planting and caring for one of the seven horse chestnut saplings will be an inspiration and symbol not only to our students, but provide our entire community with a reminder of the important role our young people play in our daily lives, and of our obligation to provide them with the tools they will need to succeed, grow, and contribute to their world as adults. We also see a unique opportunity in the placement of a sapling at Southern Cayuga Middle School. Our tranquil, rural setting serves as a dramatic contrast to the cramped Annex and the concentration camps where Anne spent her last three years. It is a reminder that all youth deserve what the luckiest receive.

The Finger Lakes region of upstate New York has historically been in the vanguard on issues concerning civil rights and social justice. Harriet Tubman, who led many slaves to freedom, lived in nearby Auburn, New York. Her home there is preserved as a historic landmark and living history museum. The area is dotted with sites that were used as hideouts on the underground railroad. Nearby Seneca Falls, New York was the site of the first women’s rights convention, and houses the National Parks Service Women’s Rights National Park. Fort Ontario, located north of the school in Oswego, New York, was used to house Jewish refugees who had fled Europe during World War II. The fort now contains a museum memorializing the plight of these refugees and the fort’s role in providing them sanctuary.