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State Honoree

Elizabeth Cambers

Kansas

Elizabeth Cambers, 18, of Mapleton, Kan., a senior at Uniontown High School in Uniontown, researched, wrote and presented a play about a little-known Polish woman who saved thousands of Jewish children during World War II, in an effort to promote tolerance in her rural community. While searching for a meaningful history research project, Elizabeth read a story in an old magazine about Irena Sendler, who is credited with rescuing 2,500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942-43. Elizabeth began searching for more information about Mrs. Sendler, and was greatly inspired by what she learned. “It is such a story of great courage,” she said. “It occurred to me that our community needed lessons of tolerance, and her story taught great moral lessons.” After her play was written, Elizabeth recruited friends to help her prepare, rehearse and perform the drama, which was then presented to her school, churches, civic organizations and other groups. During her research, Elizabeth discovered that Mrs. Sendler is still living, in a modest apartment in Warsaw. So at each performance, she places a jar at the door, representing the jars in which Mrs. Sendler hid the true identities of the children she had saved. Audience members have filled the jars with more than $7,000 to help pay for Mrs. Sendler’s medical care. The script for Elizabeth’s play, titled “Life in a Jar,” has been sent to school districts across the country, and recently Elizabeth and other volunteers established the Irena Sendler Foundation, dedicated to the teaching of tolerance projects beyond the boundaries of the classroom.