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Champion students learn about Holocaust

Kathleen Bronson and eighth grade students in her language arts classes at Champion Middle School are studying the Holocaust with students from Israel online.

CHAMPION — Champion Middle School eighth-grade language arts students are spending the school year learning about the Holocaust, and part of the work is communicating with students in Israel.

Kathleen Bronson, eighth-grade language arts teacher, said as part of the International Shared Reading Project, students in the U.S. and at the Shaked School in northern Israel are reading and discussing “The Island on Bird Street” by Uri Orlow.

“We have had speakers at our school discuss the Holocaust with the students and wanted our students to be part of the international reading program. This year the literature classes are reading a book and discussing it online through emails with students at a school in northern Israel,” Bronson said.

She said the students will take part in activities throughout the school year with all communications between the school going through the Holocaust and Humanity Center in Cincinnati.

“The purpose of the program is the power of dialogue and the importance of discussing the Holocaust. This activity recognizes the strength of the human spirit of teaching to young people about standing up to discrimination, injustice and intolerance,” Bronson said.

The book documents the life of a young boy experiencing the Holocaust. The activity allows students to meet online and discover their similarities and celebrate their differences.

Bronson said students at both schools are given the same discussion questions and activities that apply to their everyday lives. She said there will be a culminating activity at the end of the school year.

“This will be a long lesson discussing the Holocaust. The students read a section of the book and answer and discuss questions which we share and communicate back and forth with the other students. We look over and discuss the responses,” she said.

Bronson said many of the questions deal with real-life situations and issues The center monitors and looks over students’ responses.

“The students have been intrigued by the other students. There was an introduction of the students to each class. My students are interested in the culture, traditions and how students learn in schools in Israel,” Bronson said.

“This is a great experience for our students. They learn about Jewish holidays. We are sharing our holidays with them and they experience our holidays,” Bronson said.

Students enjoy taking part in the project.

“This is different than anything we have ever done before,” said Katelyn Gray, 13.

Olivia Gray, 13, said, “We can relate to them in many ways even though we are in different countries. We have communicated with them and learned what they are like. We told them about Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

The students said they are learning about the customs in Israel.

“We get to hear a personal experience about the Holocaust and realize the number of people killed,” said Caylynn Hurst, 13.

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