The fear of any society and generation should be forgetting the atrocities and horrors committed by humans in the past. Diminishing in any way how devastating and tragic genocides, wars, and attacks were to the world is a crime in itself. The Eaton Rapids High School English 12-A Class takes time each school year for a study on the Holocaust. In this portion of the class students create artistic presentations, replicas, and models of images, places, and key features of the Holocaust.
Starting Monday, Oct. 9 the public was welcome to visit Eaton Rapids High School to view the dozens of presentations made by the senior class. The hours of viewing varied day-to-day, some of which were during school hours while others were limited to after school. Parents, teachers, administrators, and students came to view the memorial located in a horseshoe shaped hallway just left of the main entrance to the school. Models of concentration camps, scrapbooks of real people, and hundreds of info blurbs lined the walls to encapsulate one of the most horrific periods in recent history.
Students participated in a number of Holocaust related activities during this portion of the class, prior to making their projects. According to Eaton Rapids High School principal Derek Lounds, they read the memoir, “Night” by Elie Wiesel, which is about his experience with his father in the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz, and also visit the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills. Principal Lounds was once an English teacher at the high school, and he recalled his experience teaching this portion of the class.
“They really don’t replicate projects from year-to-year,” Lounds said as he pointed to a sculpture.
According to Lounds the first half of the class is dedicated to teaching some of the dark history of the world, whereas the second half is for the purpose of letting the students explore major issues of their time and how they can participate in making them better.
“What’s wrong with our world, and how can you get involved?”
“I did my project on Irena Sendler. She rescued 2,500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto,” said Haley Miller, regarding why she chose Sendler for the focus of her project. “I found the number really astonishing.”
Astonishment was a common reaction for most of the seniors — astonishment at the bravery of the people who helped the Jews; astonishment at the stories of the Jews who died; astonishment at the destructive creativity of humans.
“I think it’s important because of everything that happened. It’s what human beings are capable of,” Miller said. “Here it is. It did happen.”
Ben Fassett worked on a project that represented the carbon monoxide poisoning many Jews perished from. As depicted in his project, poisoning Jews was sometimes as simple as running a hose from a car’s exhaust into a sealed off room full of people. While the genocide and torture of the Jews included this and worse, all of it is shocking and important to the seniors.
“It’s relevant because it’s still happening today. Genocide is still happening in the world today,” said Fassett.
Dark. Horrifying. Tragic. Real. In their own way Eaton Rapids High School Seniors are experiencing and remembering and honoring the reality of the Holocaust. While they can’t relive or witness firsthand the dark truth of that period, they can still read and learn about it. It can invade their safety and security, making them sad, hurt, and uncomfortable, and that’s an important part of any education. Stretching the limits and comfort zones of the student so they can learn from history and its countless mistakes.