Northboro HS Class Takes Deep Dive Into What Led To The Holocaust

WBZ-TV's Nick Giovanni reports.

Video Transcript

- Eye On Culture tonight, May is Jewish American Heritage Month. Most kids learn about the Holocaust in school but Algonquian Regional High School in Northboro is taking it one step further with lessons on human behavior.

- WBZ's Nick Giovanni shows us how the curriculum is challenging students to examine racism and prejudice in a lesson that for some is deeply personal.

- Who do they care about, right? Who are they thinking about as they make these decisions?

- Decisions that led to some of the darkest days of the 20th century.

- And we're going to read some of their testimony, we're--

- Now the subject of a case study in Algonquin Regional High School in Northboro.

JORDIN CHASTANET: I think it's really helped me to understand kind of why was my family killed.

- For Jordin Chastanet, a senior at Algonquin, the course called Holocaust and Human Behavior an elective offered to juniors and seniors is more than just a class, it's personal.

- My grandmother was actually a Holocaust survivor and two of her sisters and her escapes from the Warsaw Ghetto. And I've heard so much about my history.

- The history of the Holocaust might make up a few chapters of a typical high school textbook. How much did you know about the Holocaust prior to this?

- Just there are concentration camps, the Nazis were the bad guys, and lots of Jews were killed.

- So what we're going to do today is look at the stories or I should say testimonies from three different Nazis.

- Brittany Burns has crafted a curriculum over the last 12 years, offering a closer, more complex look at the systematic murder of 6 million Jews in the early to mid 1940s. It's very easy to say it's Hitler, it's the leadership, but the stories that we're reading this whole time are about regular people, like all of us, right? Who participate in the system. And for a whole bunch of reasons--

- The class not only read stories but excerpts of interviews offering firsthand accounts, even some with former Nazi concentration camp commandants.

- So you didn't feel they were human beings?

- Cargo. He said tonelessly. They were cargo.

- If you don't listen to the hard stuff, you're not going to develop, and you're not going to learn.

- Before opening up a single discussion, ground rules are set at the start of each semester. We don't have conversations unless we've done the research first.

- What do you hope kids walk away with from this experience in this class?

- Oh, that's a tough question. There's so many things. But I think at the end of the day, I hope that this question of what is our responsibility is something that resonates with them.

- Applying history to guide the choices students make in the here and now. Reporting in Northboro, Nick Giovanni, WBZ News.

- A lesson they'll never forget.

- Absolutely.