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Renewed Focus on the 8th Grade Holocaust Unit

Roosevelt School is raising awareness about the Holocaust and a rise in Antisemitism across the country.
Roosevelt School is raising awareness about the Holocaust and a rise in Antisemitism across the country.

     Starting last year, the Westfield Public School District implemented a Holocaust Education Unit for all 8th grade students at both Edison and Roosevelt schools. The unit was created to educate kids on the history of the Holocaust and to help ensure that something like this will never happen again.  This year, the Holocaust Unit takes on added importance given the events that occurred in Israel on October 7th.  On that day, the world witnessed the horrifying attack by Hamas on Israel, and unfortunately, since then, anti-Semitic acts have increased all across the country and the world. By refocusing on the unit, the district is hoping students learn about the history of the Holocaust and antisemitism, and understand their role in bringing an end to it.  

     The unit will begin in mid January and will be taught in social studies and language arts classes for 10 straight days. To better understand the unit, we interviewed 8th grade social studies teacher Mrs. Conneely to clarify what will be covered and why it is so important.

  • Why are we doing this unit and what is the goal?

“The humanities style Holocaust unit is designed for language arts teachers and social studies teachers to teach the same topic but teach it in different ways. …It takes a deep dive into the main topic of what hate can actually do to people. As a district, we decided it was important and age-appropriate for 8th graders as opposed to 6th or 7th graders. In this day and age, with the significant increase in antisemitism and hate crimes, I think it is really important that people are educated on topics like this, and I think that with that education comes less hate towards people.”

  • Do you think the unit was beneficial to students who experienced it last year?

“I do think it was beneficial to students especially because they were able to look at what we learned about the Holocaust and genocide and apply it to other topics that we study throughout the year.”

     Ultimately, the Holocaust Unit will allow 8th graders to better understand the events of the Holocaust and be able to recognize the evil involved with antisemitism. Obviously, given the recent events in Israel and Gaza, teachers feel there is extra significance to the unit this year, and hopefully it will educate our students on the importance of bringing an end to all forms of hate. 

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