Madison Junior High School students find Gerda Katz, Edith's ship friend

  • May 6, 2011
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Madison Junior High School Learning Center in Naperville, IL where FSC presented her mother’s story to students

Letter from Madison Junior High School history teacher, Catie O’Boyle:
Mrs. Chapman,

My name is Catie O’Boyle. I am a history teacher at Madison Junior High School in Naperville. You came to visit our school a few weeks ago. My students and I were so moved by your mother’s story that we decided we wanted to find Gerda Katz for her. Armed with the clues you offered in your book and the belief that we could do it, we set out to find her. I was amazed by how excited my students were, and how hard they wanted to work. We did not want to tell you that we were looking, just in case we couldn’t find her.

Every day my students would ask me if we had a Gerda Katz update. Once we thought we found her, I crammed thirty students into our LRC office to call her. Unfortunately, we had to leave voice mails twice. I finally got an email back from Mrs. (Katz) Frumkin. I wrote to her and explained about your mother. I heard from her last Friday that she made contact with you and your mother. I cannot tell you how excited we are about your mom reuniting with Gerda Katz. I am so proud of my students for their dedication, passion, and desire to help out someone they have never met.

Mr. and Mrs. Frumkin wrote to me and told me that you will be going to Seattle to visit them. We are so very happy for you and your mother. We wish you all of the best. We would love to hear how things went. These students feel a deep vested interest in the reunion of your mother with her long lost friend.

Thank you for sharing your story with us. Good luck, and please let us know if there is ever anything we can do.

Catie O’Boyle
Social Science Department Coordinator
Madison Junior High School
Naperville, IL
FSC’s response to Ms. O’Boyle’s letter:

Dear Ms. O’Boyle and students,
As you can imagine, this has been quite a week for my mother. I have been traveling, however, my mother has been emailing and calling me with the thrilling news that she has been in touch with her old friend, Gertie Katz. (I am going to forward you an email of their first exchange.) I am deeply grateful to all of you for helping Edith to find Gertie. It is extremely poignant for Gertie and Edith that a middle school class helped the two women reconnect since both were ostracized by their classmates when they were your age. With this act of kindness, you have changed both Edith’s and Gertie’s lives.

I will share with you all of the developments as this story unfolds. It looks like we may travel to Seattle in May.

With great appreciation and affection,

Fern Schumer Chapman

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