Students visit Holocaust museum and memorial in Squirrel Hill

Samantha Young

More stories from Samantha Young



Jewish Day School tour guide tells seventh graders about the monument and answers many of their questions.

The seventh grade ELA and social studies classes and the eighth grade advanced ELA class have recently learned about the Holocaust. Seventh grade ELA classes read the book “Prisoner B-3087” by Alan Gratz and did critical thinking activities on the story to go along with this unit. They also went to a Holocaust museum and Jewish day school monument in Squirrel Hill on Dec. 17 and 19.  Many of the kids and teachers enjoyed this unit. 

Mrs. Carole Hartman, seventh grade ELA teacher,  explained that she had the seventh graders do critical thinking activities throughout the book they were reading because she wanted them to practice the skills that they had previously learned. Hartman wanted her students to learn about the Holocaust and that being mean to someone just because they are different is not right. Hartman says she really enjoyed this unit and wants to do it again next year as this is her second year teaching it. Hartman also taught this in high school.  

“I did teach a class in the high school on the Holocaust and this was one of the books and the high school kids just sucked it up. They were so excited about the book and when I tried it last year with the seventh grade I got the same results. It’s just very very cool to see kids so interested in something reading.” 

She also said that she most enjoyed telling the students what she personally knows about the Holocaust. Hartman thinks we should definitely do this again but she says next year she hopes to have books for every student.

Mr. James Culler, seventh grade geography teacher, also thought the unit went well. Culler was mainly in charge of planning the field trip. He said that it was stressful as most field trips are because of so many little details but that this year he had a lot of help from Hartman, Mrs. Post, seventh grade math teacher, and Ms. Finch, seventh and eighth grade ELA teacher. 

“The actual day of the field trip – it always comes together because of the awesome support of the staff and the good behavior of our students.  To see the students actively engaged, learning and having fun – makes all the stress worth it. I always come back feeling proud of how we represented our school.” said Culler.

Many students enjoyed visiting the Holocaust museum and seeing many of the historic artifacts from the time period of what they have recently been learning about.

“I thought it was cool that they still had stuff from back then,” says seventh grader Haydan Baucan. “It’s interesting what they had to go through and what we don’t have to now. It’s good we learn this stuff so it doesn’t happen again in the future,” said Baucan.  

Some of the students wish for activities that they can be more interactive in doing. Some of these students recommended different things. These include watching more videos on this topic, articles of other people who have survived the Holocaust, a little research project in the middle and end on different people who have survived, learning about the effects on the multiple countries, and doing a map project on where the concentration camps and ghettos are. These may help the students better understand what happened it the Holocaust. Some of the students may need this to be interested and have some educational fun during this unit. 

 “I didn’t enjoy [the Holocaust unit] because of how dark it was.” said seventh grader Landon Fehir. “I enjoyed going out of school and learning about it. I recommend [learning about the Holocaust] so you learn the history, but try to make it more interesting next year.”

Many students and teachers think this unit was a success. Teachers may always add or take away to this unit but what they did this year, in most people’s opinion, was really good. Some of the students may not like it or may think that the teachers should add some different things to do and the teachers might listen to their suggestions or might not, but in the end, it come to did the majority of the students enjoy this unit and that was a definite yes.  

 “I did  have fun learning it because the Holocaust is something that has always interested me.” Talking about the museum Chase Grable, eighth grader said,  “I thought it was good. I mean even though it wasn’t like a huge huge museum it still had a lot of interesting information.” Grable also thinks this is something everyone should learn and recommends this unit for next year.