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Trauma, hope and resilience

by HANNAH NEFF
Staff Writer | January 14, 2022 1:06 AM

Through many forms of original art, eighth-graders at Lakes Middle School are presenting their responses to themes of trauma, hope and resilience.

“I was really impressed with the effort a lot of kids put in,” eighth-grade language arts teacher Margo Swanson said. “It was a challenge for the kids to think and create in a new way.”

The art projects are helping the eighth-graders better understand the story of Anne Frank, a victim of the Holocaust. Frank, who died in a concentration camp in 1945 at age 15, gained fame after her diary was published in 1947.

As part of their language-arts class, the eighth-graders read a stage-adapted version of “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

Swanson said a lot of students lacked an access point or background knowledge to truly understand Frank’s story.

She said the project became a way for her and language arts teachers Jontie Meehan and Alicen Mancha to help students explore themes in the book and understand why it’s relevant today, as well as how it might connect to their lives.

Students used many forms of art including paintings, videos, posters, photographs and sculpture to respond to three reflection questions:

• To‌ ‌what‌ ‌extent‌ ‌do‌ ‌trauma,‌ ‌tragedy ‌and‌ ‌adversity‌ ‌build‌ ‌resilience?‌ ‌

• What‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌role‌ ‌of‌ ‌hope‌ ‌in‌ ‌survival?‌ ‌

• How‌ ‌does‌ ‌the‌ ‌way‌ ‌we‌ ‌treat‌ ‌others‌ ‌reflect‌ ‌who‌ ‌we‌ ‌are?‌

Swanson said with some of the projects it’s easy to see a definite connection to the Holocaust, while others are more personal and relate to the individual.

Eighth-grader Val Mares created a watercolor painting she titled “Loving Differences” as a response to the idea that how we treat others reflects who we are.

Mares said a relevant theme in the story is that people can be looked down upon by others because of differences in ethnicity, religion and more.

She said the story showed how others saw those variations in behavior as imperfections.

“Our differences actually make us unique,” Mares said. “It’s like the best part of ourselves.”

Student Cash Schmidt made a Canva poster to show the role of hope in survival.

Schmidt created a dark scene with an umbrella and a faint light in the distance.

“(The light) represents kind of the hope in what you’re going through,” Schmidt said. “I used a blue to represent sadness and everything, and the darkness is whatever troubles you’re feeling in life.”

Student Sibley Higgins created a painting showing a caterpillar with a butterfly shadow to symbolize the role of hope.

“That shadow represents the bright future that it has,” Higgins said. “If it just keeps going, it’ll emerge to be a beautiful butterfly.”

Around 150 pieces of the eighth graders' art will be featured in a showcase from 5 to 8 p.m. today at the Human Rights Education Institute in Coeur d’Alene.

Swanson said along with the art, the top student essays describing the connection of their work to the reflection questions and story are printed out in a binder at the gallery.

“I was really encouraged to see how kids took it so seriously and put a lot of their own creativity and unique spin on it,” Swanson said. “It’s a unique way to see kids think deeply.”

The show will be featured through the end of February.

photo

Cash Schmidt, an eighth grader at Lakes Middle School, holds up his work, "Light in the Storm," an art response to the reading of a play adaption of "The Diary of Anne Frank." Schmidt said the light symbolizes hope in the darkness. Courtesy photo

photo

Eighth grader Isabelle Gissel-King of Lakes Middle School displays her work, "Day, Dawn, Dark," an artistic response to a play adaption of "The Diary of Anne Frank." Gissel-King's art, along with about 150 pieces by other eighth-graders, will be displayed at the Human Rights Education Institute in Coeur d’Alene through the end of February. Courtesy photo

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