Splendora Junior High seventh-graders step into the shoes of Holocaust victims in Staci Ely’s class. The students are studying the Holocaust and reading the novel, The Devil’s Arithmetic, but have also read excerpts from I Never Saw Another Butterfly, a collection of works of art and poetry by Jewish children who were in the concentration camp, Theresienstadt.
Part of Ely’s lesson included students randomly choosing identification cards of people who had suffered the atrocities of the Holocaust.
“The ID cards included pictures and a biography on each person. The biography included diary entries and the ultimate fate of each person,” said Ely.
Seventh-grader Hannah Elliott said, “When I was making the butterfly for Elizabetia (my person), I was thinking about all the victims of the Holocaust that would never see another butterfly. Elizabetia was a scared little girl. Fortunately, she and her family survived. I kept thinking about all of the people who didn’t make it out and would never see their families again. Then Elizabetia, this little tiny girl, survived a long time in the camp. I guess she was just a tough little girl who knew she was going to make it out!”
Assistant Superintendent Rick Kershner was visiting the campus and saw Ely’s lesson and joined in.
“The activity provided an opportunity for students to see the Holocaust through the eyes of an individual that either survived or perished at the hands of the Hitler-led Germans. I selected an ID card, too. Mine was a child that survived from a family of 12 children. This child eventually made his way to the United States,” said Kershner. “This was a great activity that gave students a real sense of what the Holocaust was all about,” he added.
The students made butterflies in honor of the person they chose and made a butterfly banner titled “We Remember” in the victims’ honor.
“By studying the Holocaust, each student engaged in critical thinking and self reflection. They made essential connections between history, and the choices they must learn to make in their own lives,” said Ely.
Representatives from the Houston Holocaust Museum will be coming to Splendora Junior High on Dec. 19 to do a presentation.