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Eyewitness to History

Historically, one of the most transformational and moving moments of the Grade 7 Graland trip to Washington, D.C. has been our visit to the Holocaust Museum. Despite the trip being sidelined by the pandemic, students were able to learn some of the impact of the Holocaust through a presentation and firsthand accounts from survivors and an eyewitness. 
In April, Grade 7 and 8 students participated in the Mizel Museum’s “Eyewitness to History” virtual program. The Mizel Museum is a local, educational nonprofit that addresses today’s social justice issues by encouraging all visitors to “celebrate diversity and equality and combat discrimination and hatred.” Through live instruction and pre-recorded videos, students learned the stories of Jack Adler, Rudi Florian, and Esther Clifford who witnessed and experienced the horrors of the Holocaust.This unique program gave historical context and allowed students to learn timeless lessons about resilience, courage, human dignity and living without hate.   

In one lesson, students learned about the slave labor used during the Holocaust by hearing and analyzing clips of Jack Adler’s experienceThey considered how Adler’s story affects their view of the world today and how they will react when they see someone being mistreated. Through analyzing primary and secondary sources, students reflected on the ability to counter hate by demonstrating mutual respect. 

Another lesson focused on the key characteristics of propaganda, which was brought to life through the account of Rudi Florian, a German eyewitness during World War II, who spoke of his experiences while he was in school. Students learned the importance of knowing how to discern factual information from propaganda, and they began to grasp the impact it can have when people fail to understand the difference between the two.

In the end, students reflected on the ability to counter hate by demonstrating mutual respect. And, they wrote This I Believe statements. Here are a few examples: such as:

  • “Hatred is temporary as long as we are educated and aware of history so that it cannot repeat itself.”
  • “Everybody should get respect even if you don’t see eye to eye.”
  • “Humanity should have mutual respect for each other because people need to understand each other to avoid total chaos and hate.”
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Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.