By Tamas Mondovics
Burns Middle School seventh and eighth grade students got the chance to get up close and personal with the realities of one of the worst atrocities of the last century, which to this day, almost 70 years later is still difficult to fathom.
Visual Art Teacher Ragen Carpenter, who brought years of experience to the school when she joined the faculty at Burns this season, was proud of her students, all of whom she said worked hard on a project, and were willing to take part in.
“We have been working on a large Holocaust installation that portrays the horrible event in our history,” Carpenter said.
To further the students’ awareness of the Holocaust, Carpenter embarked on her project by creating 3D sculptures of various arms and legs that have been tattooed with actual Holocaust victims’ numbers.
“It was an academic collaboration between myself and the eighth grade teachers,” she said adding that her passionate students researched more than 500 names of those who were murdered.
To bring the project to its completion, each visual art student, as well as the eighth grade language arts students, wore a yellow star each carrying the name and age of someone that lost their life during the genocide. Several students also participated in constructing the installation to be viewed by the entire school in the courtyard.
The students did not hesitate to share their thoughts of the project including 14-year-old Katia Zavala who said,” I really appreciated learning the facts about the Holocaust.”
Her classmate, Logan Christ, added, “I now have a greater understanding on how all those in the camps were treated.”
Eight-grade Language Arts and Journalism Teacher Stephanie O’Rourke, who supported the project, mentioned witnessing its effects on the students as well as some of her fellow teachers.
“I saw one of the teachers stop and pray in front of the display,” O’Rourke said. “Many of the students have also paused and were clearly moved by the project.”
Carpenter admitted that the theme of this year’s art project was a sensitive one, but that it made her students understand, appreciate, and comprehend of what truly took place.
For more information about Burns Middle School, visit www.sdhc.k12.fl.us.