Steamboat Springs The Holocaust seems a world away from Steamboat Springs, but its issues prejudice, struggle and survival are not.
For the past 10 years, the Anne Frank competition has challenged students to express the themes of the horrible event through writing, dance or art.
This year, 12 local students rose to that challenge, some learning about the horrors of the Holocaust for the first time. All the students then had to think about the theme, "The Triumphant Spirit."
"You always hear about it, but you didn't really know the truth," Steamboat Springs Middle School seventh-grader Kelly Marsh said about the reality of the Holocaust.
It was a hard task at the elementary school level, according to Soda Creek Elementary parent Cindy Toy.
"We basically had to sit down and explain to them about Anne Frank and the Holocaust," Toy said.
The middle school students, who worked with parents Beth Bishop and Susan de Wardt on the project, looked at slides and photographs and said they were shocked by mass graves.
Some had read "The Diary of Anne Frank," the heart-wrenching tale of a young Jewish girl and her family hiding out in Amsterdam during World War II.
"It's pretty sad, the fact that she couldn't go outside," middle school eighth-grader Amanda Toy said of Frank.
While Toy said this year's theme of "The Triumphant Spirit" was easier than last year's "The Price of Silence" it was broader.
"It's about surviving and overcoming obstacles," said Toy, who wrote about her grandparents immigrating from China to the United States.
The students used the competition as an opportunity to relate the tragedy back to their own lives. "I related mine to school life and people who put each other down and the cliques," seventh-grader Corey Evans said.
Evans tied for first-place in the state competition. Her piece, "The Power of Fear," is a fictional account of a girl who starts reading Frank's diary and relates it back to her own life. Evans juxtaposed passages from the diary with her own thoughts in a very candid piece.
The students, who worked on their projects on their own time, said it was worth it. It broadened their view of the world and made them think about some things other than their daily lives. It also puts news stories like those about hurricanes or fires in perspective.
"It makes me think about the things I hear on the news that are hard to believe," eighth-grader Rebecca Herman said.
"It gets you in touch with reality," Toy said.
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