Scarlett students & Holocaust survivor share their refugee experiences with sixth graders

Holocaust survivor also on the panel

Story, photos, and video by Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor

Melanie is a sixth grader at Scarlett Middle School who fled Cuba on a raft with her family when she was five.

Ahmed is an eighth grader whose family fled Iraq three years when ISIS bombed a nearby neighborhood.

And Irene Butter is an Ann Arbor resident who survived the Holocaust.

The three shared their moving experiences with sixth graders in the Scarlett Middle School auditorium this morning. The panel discussion was the culmination of a unit where sixth graders read the book “Refugee,” which tells the story of a Jewish boy during the Holocaust, a Cuban refugee during the 1994 refugee crisis, and a young Syrian refugee.

Evelyn Daugherty encourages Melanie as she tells her story about fleeing Cuba on a boat with her family at the age of five.

The book provides bilingual students with the opportunity to see their stories and experiences reflected in a novel. At Scarlett, more than 150 students come from a household where another language is spoken.

Scarlett ELL teacher Evelyn Daugherty said she hoped the panel discussion would show students how each refugee crisis has common themes and experiences across time and place and would inspire them to support people who are suffering injustice today.

In the next two weeks, sixth graders will have the opportunity to create and implement a service project to support refugees in our community and abroad, she said.

Scarlett is working in collaboration with the University of Michigan to build culturally responsive curricula that highlight and draw upon the knowledge and experiences of students.  Scarlett was able to teach a unit around this book thanks for a $400 grant from the University of Michigan Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. The books were purchased with support from a curriculum development grant from the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Michigan.

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