Bill signing

Kati Preston, a Center Barnstead resident and Holocaust survivor, joins Gov. Chris Sununu Thursday as he signs a bill, sponsored by N.H. Sen. Jay Kahn, D-Keene, requiring the Holocaust and genocide prevention to be taught in the state’s public schools.

Teaching about the Holocaust and genocide prevention will be required under New Hampshire’s definition of an adequate education, as part of a bill Gov. Chris Sununu signed into law Thursday.

Sununu was joined for the occasion by Kati Preston, a Holocaust survivor and Center Barnstead resident.

“I honestly think this generation of kids in school today will save the world,” Preston said, according to a news release from the governor’s office. “I want to give them the opportunity to hear, to learn — to learn the history of what can happen with prejudice and how far it can be pushed.”

In addition to making Holocaust and genocide-prevention education compulsory, the new law establishes a commission to study best practices for the subjects’ instruction.

Among other members, the commission will include a representative from Keene State College’s Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, as well as survivors or direct descendants of survivors of the Holocaust or another genocide.

N.H. Sen. Jay Kahn, D-Keene, was the primary sponsor of the bill’s Senate version.

“The goal is to empower students to make responsible choices against discrimination and bigotry towards racial, religious, ethnic and other minorities,” Kahn said in an email Friday.

Among other things, HB 1135 also declares June 6 as D-Day Remembrance Day and Aug. 31 as Overdose Awareness Day. In addition, it designates portions of highways in honor of Army Spc. Marc P. Decoteau of Plymouth, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010, and Brentwood Police Officer Stephen Arkell, who was fatally shot in 2014 while on duty.

A native of what is now Romania, Kati Preston lost her father among 28 relatives murdered in the Holocaust. In 2017, she told attendees of Keene’s annual Kristallnacht remembrance ceremony how she survived by hiding in a barn.

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