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The Butterfly Project

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This year, in their English classes, all eighth grade students were given  the opportunity to learn extensively about the horrors of the Holocaust. In addition, they were were invited to tour  the Holocaust Memorial Center located here, in Farmington Hills, in early June.

From 1933 to 1945, Adolf Hitler lead the Nazis through cities, humiliating and demeaning anyone who was Jewish, gypsies, handicapped individuals, homosexuals, or anyone who didn’t agree with their political views. Hitler believed Jews were the cause of all of Germany’s problems. Two thirds of the Jewish people who lived in Europe before the war were killed during  the Nazi era and over 6,000,000 people in total were killed for simply not being the ideal person in Hitler’s mind. The Nazis built concentration camps all around Europe where they would tattoo numbers onto the arms of their victims to track who they were and to take away their identities. If Jews weren’t in concentration camps, they had to sew  patches of the Star of David on their clothes, so everyone would know they were Jewish.  Jewish children were not allowed to attend public schools, and business belonging to Jews were taken away by the Nazis and given to non-Jews. We must remember horrible times like these, so we never repeat them, and we can educate ourselves further.

All eighth  graders in every English class chose from a list of either survivors or victims of the Holocaust and honored them by creating butterflies. The butterflies represent a poem that a young Jewish boy named Pavel Friedmann wrote during the Holocaust called “The Butterfly.”

“The last, the very last,

So richly, brightly, dazzling yellow.

Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing

against a white stone….

Such, such a yellow

Is carried lightly ‘way up high.

It went away I’m sure because it wished to

kiss the world good-bye.

For seven weeks I’ve lived here,

Penned up inside this ghetto.

But I have found what I love here.

The dandelions call to me

And the white chestnut branches in the court.

Only I never saw another butterfly.

That butterfly was the last one.

Butterflies don’t live in here,

in the ghetto.

This poem is trying to say how the boy is missing even the little parts of life, such as seeing a butterfly while being held in concentration camps. The students learned a lot while doing this project. You can see the butterflies hanging on the walls outside of Mrs. Berke and Ms. Payne’s rooms and hanging from the ceiling in Ms. Edelson’s room – all in the eighth grade hallway.  

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