Opportunities are given to us every day to seize - a message that rings even truer when coming from Severin Fayerman, a Holocaust survivor who went on to succeed as a businessman in America.
Fayerman was the guest speaker at a Law Day luncheon hosted by the York County Bar Foundation.
"I don't think I'll ever forget for the rest of my life my first entry to Auschwitz," said Fayerman. "If anyone can imagine purgatory, I imagine that is how purgatory must look."
Having survived imprisonment and forced labor at Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps during World War II, he emigrated to America with his family in 1946 and formed the business now known as Baldwin Hardware.
"This America is built on dreams, and we do live in the best country in the world. It will be a great tragedy if this great nation ever perishes," said Fayerman.
The York County Bar honored several recent award winners at the luncheon at the Yorktowne Hotel.
Judge Maria Musti Cook presented the Liberty Bell Award to Robert Pullo, a York philanthropist.
The Liberty Bell Award honors a non-attorney volunteer from York who has encouraged others to respect the legal system and take an active role in the justice system, and has helped improve the American system of freedom. Pullo was chosen for the award for his unselfish leadership and community service.
Awards were also presented to the student poster and essay contest winners and the Mock Trial finalists.
With entries judged on originality, style and clarity, the goal of the contests is to encourage youth to pay attention to current social and legal issues and express their views.
West York swept the essay contest with winners for first, second and third place. Spring Grove had an even bigger sweep with three poster contest winners, and one of the winning teams for the Mock Trial. York Catholic High School had the other winning Mock Trial team.
York high schoolers begin practicing for Mock Trial in November for when competition begins in January.
"I consider it like a winter sport," said Jason Baker, faculty coach for Spring Grove's winning team. "They dedicate more time to this than a sport."
In each trial, the teams have a chance to compete as both the plaintiff and defendant. The winners advance to regional and state rounds of competition.
Local attorney Ann Marie McElwee has been the official timekeeper for the trials for the past 14 years.
"The students are amazing," McElwee said. "A lot of judges serve as mock judges in the trials, and law firms volunteer to be jury members."
She has been at almost every trial this season and said that the students tell her she is their good luck charm. Local attorneys also volunteer their time to coach each team throughout the season.
Educational activities for Law Day will continue in May as local attorneys participate in "Judges and Lawyers Go Back To School." Chaired by Jennifer Galloway, the event helps students understand that their freedoms are based on the rights and responsibilities they exercise on a daily basis.
Essay Contest Winners
1. Kassidy Kelley, West York Area High School. Her topic was "the educational playing field."
2. Joann Sutyak, West York Area High School "Does Pennsylvania Allow Same Sex Marriage?"
3. Sarah Shearer, West York Area High School "Should Pennsylvania Allow Same Sex Marriage?"
Poster Contest Winners
1. Sarah Zavatsky, Spring Grove Middle School
2. Angela Ketterman, Spring Grove Middle School
3. Hannah Wenler, Spring Grove Middle School
Mock Trial district winners Spring Grove Area High School team members - Mary Buckmaster, Molly Gentile, Ashley Hively, Andy Klenker, Molly Korman, Tori McCleaf, Maria Menges, Kaitie Rappoldt and Becky Wiest, and Jason Baker, Teacher Coach, and Joshua Neiderhiser, Attorney Coach
York Catholic High School team members - Katherine Andrews, Katarina DeFelice, Emily Schoettler, Anna Spoden, Annie Stover, Cody Stubbs, Colby Stubbs and Erika Zarfoss, and Deborah Hess, Faculty Coach and Jeffrey F. Boyles, Attorney Coach.
- Reach Chelsea Shank at 505-5432 or firstname.lastname@example.org.