They read “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” a collection of children’s drawings and poems from Terezin Concentration Camp in Czechoslovakia.
From 1942-1944 over 15,000 children under the age of 15 passed through the camp.
As children experienced the horrors of their surroundings, their imaginations helped them focus on other things like the animals, the birds, and the butterflies.
Teachers Patsy Reese and Allyson Hardy facilitated the unit and asked their students to choose one poem and create their own butterfly based on that poem from “I Never Saw Another Butterfly.”
Their butterflies are now going to the Holocaust Museum Houston Butterfly Project in Texas. The goal of project is to collect 1.5 million handmade butterflies to represent the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust.
As an extension of this unit of study, teacher Terry Routman facilitated a trip to the Adath Israel Synagogue in Cleveland to talk to Rabbi Harry Danziger about the Holocaust.
Students also learned about the Star of David, about the Jewish gospels reading right to left instead of left to right, and about the special events celebrated by Jewish people.
When the students visited Washington, D.C., they were able to visit the Holocaust Museum, which gave them more insight into the horrors people faced.
“I couldn’t believe so many people could be pushed into the train cars,” said Hunter Talbot.
Students told Hardy how they felt as they toured the museum and viewed the exhibits. “They got to see the Holocaust from a child’s perspective,” she said.
Project Pass students Violet Jira, Scottie Hutchens, Ayinde Balthrop, along with Talbot, talked about the things they learned from this study.
“I appreciate how much we have. I don’t have to worry about being taken away because of how I look. So much has changed. I think maybe the poems were the children’s revenge somehow,” said Scottie.
“Back then, people didn’t realize how many died because of their religion,” said Hunter.
Ayinde said, “The majority of the writers in our book did not survive and they saw the horrible things but they tried to hold on to hope and look for something beautiful.”
“For the children in our book, butterflies were happiness because they were outside the camp but the children could not get to them,” said Violet.
When asked if the study had changed how they look at things, Violet said, “It made me appreciate what we have. Sending our butterflies to the museum might tell others about the Holocaust. It is good to let people know. If they forget, it might happen again.”