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Students’ studies of Holocaust include day of silence

WEST VALLEY CITY — A day of silence helped some junior high students realize the depth and scope of the Holocaust.

English classes at Valley Junior High School have been studying World War II for the past six weeks. It culminated in the week of the official Day of Remembrance, and students were completely silent during their English classes.

“No talking, no communicating or anything,” said Elizabeth Shelton, one of the four English teachers at Valley Junior High.

As part of their studies, students read “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Anne and her family had to be silent from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and at the time she was the same age as many of the junior high students.

Shelton says it was an eye-opening experience.

“I think the students really felt that power,” she said.

They also read “The Terrible Things” by Eve Bunting, and watched the documentary “The Paperclip Project,” which features students collecting 6 million paperclips.

In Bryce Evans’ class, the eighth-graders silently stuck notes on the board with things they now realize about hate and looking the other way, and the power of a person’s voice to protect others.

“I bet the people wished they would have stood up, but it was too late,” said Sarah, one of the Valley Junior High students. “You have to stand up before it’s too late.”

Shelton said Valley Principal Trent Hendricks told the students, “If you don’t stand up for someone when you see someone being bullied or abused, or crying out for help, you might be in that situation, and there will be nobody here left to speak up for you.”