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Baraboo High School seniors to visit Illinois Holocaust Museum

January 16, 2019
Baraboo School Board Vice President Doug Mering, third from right, discusses an issue with the board Nov. 29. The board on Monday approved a trip for high school seniors to attend the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in March.

Baraboo High School seniors will embark on a daylong trip to the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in March as part of the response to a photo that shows boys in the class making what appears to be a Nazi salute.

Many people — both from the district and outside it — called for Baraboo students to receive more education on the Holocaust after the photo surfaced and went viral online in November. That goal was included in a community action plan developed from facilitated discussions at a public meeting Nov. 29.

Administrators plan to hold an annual field trip for seniors to visit either the Illinois museum or the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, according to BHS Principal Glenn Bildsten. This year, District Administrator Lori Mueller said the trip to Illinois is planned for March 25 at no cost to students.

BHS social studies teacher Erick Blasing said the trip is a “great opportunity.” Though the district does a “good job” of teaching topics such as World War II, he noted the benefit of getting out of the classroom.

“When you can get out and actually see people that were involved or touch things that were involved, it just gives you a different perspective and an opportunity to see something being presented in more of a tactile way than just … a school setting,” he said.

Located in the Chicago suburb of Skokie, Illinois, the Holocaust museum features artifacts, documents, photographs and interactive 3D holograms of Holocaust survivors that tell the stories of what it was like to live through WWII. According to the museum website, Skokie had the largest per-capita population of Holocaust survivors outside of Israel.

Blasing said the institution contacted Baraboo School District in the fall and offered to waive admission fees for a class trip.

“I think it’s just impressive, the amount of groups and people that have reached out to us and been able to offer us some experiences that without their support wouldn’t necessarily be available to us, you know, in an easily accessible way,” Blasing said.

The district will pay transportation costs, Mueller said.

“We would want all seniors to participate in this trip,” she told the school board Monday. “However, it will be an extended day, because it’s a three-hour trip on a good day to Skokie from Baraboo and another three hours back.”

About 10 chaperones will accompany students, starting at the beginning of the school day and returning after school lets out, Blasing said. While planning is ongoing, he expects students will rotate throughout the museum and participate in breakout sessions, as well as listen to a program and speaker.

Staff from the district and the Holocaust museum will design “educational conversations” to have with students before and after the trip, Bildsten wrote in an email.

The Baraboo School Board approved the field trip unanimously Monday.

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