High school Holocaust exhibit shines light on dark history
Posted November 29, 2018 7:20 p.m. EST
Updated November 29, 2018 7:22 p.m. EST
Lillington, N.C. — The media center at Western Harnett High School is dark except for the electric candles and strings of light that are more disquieting than decorative.
That is the point.
The literal darkness is a metaphor for the darkness that radiated across Europe during the 1940s.
The students know that history often displays evil in stark black and white.
“If we teach them to make sure this never happens again, then my job is successful,” history teacher Kelli Oliver said.
Oliver teaches a class about the Holocaust and other genocides.
With tri-folds, laptops, haunting photos and music, her students created a Holocaust museum in the media center.
Caleb Gordon, a senior, explained the inexplicable to his classmates on Thursday.
“They starved the mentally handicapped and everyone else,” he said.
He used the video game Minecraft to design a virtual tour of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Another exhibit is the "Hall of Death," where a lone wheelchair sits beside images of medical experiments done by the Nazis.
“Emotionally, this class gets you,” senior Alexia Mullis said. “I think everybody has cried at least once in this class. It gets you.”
That is the point.
One display shows Jews losing their possessions “and eventually losing their identity and not knowing what family is anymore, or religion,” one student said.
The students know history, and they know the news.
They know that blood can spill in an American synagogue in 2018 and that swastikas can appear on an American college campus in 2018.
Senior Courtney Hardy said history's darkest hours should light the way.
“If something’s wrong, I’m going to stand up for it,” she said. “It’s become part of me now. It’s like my duty to stand up for something that’s wrong, to not repeat the history that’s been done.”