New Jersey 5th grade project on Hitler as ‘great’ being probed
TENAFLY — After a fifth grader dressed as Adolf Hilter for a class project and wrote out the dictator's “accomplishments” to include details of the Holocaust, the incident is under investigation by Schools Superintendent Shauna DeMarco.
A handwritten paragraph by the elementary school student entitled "Accomplishments," as shared to social media by community members over the weekend, started with the line "My greatest accomplishment was uniting a great mass of German and Austiran people behind me," later adding "I was pretty great wasn't I?"
The student's paper, which had been hung for display in the public school's hallway, ended with the sentences "I was very popular and many people followed me until I died. My belif in antisemitism drove me to kill more than 6 million Jews."
The presentation had been teacher approved as part of a "character development project" at Maugham Elementary School, according to a report by ThePostMillennial.com, citing other parents from the district.
"I learned about this situation on Friday and contacted the related District administrators immediately," DeMarco said in an open letter on Sunday to the community. "I have requested that all associated information related to this project be provided to me. Once I receive and review the full information, I will determine any further action that should be taken."
Tenafly Borough Council president Lauren Dayton said in a Facebook post to her personal page that she knows the child who did the project on the notorious Nazi leader, and believes it was not intended to offend people.
"The child stuck to the requirements of a school assignment. The child had NO intention to be anti-Semitic, offensive or hateful towards our Jewish community," Dayton wrote. "I personally know this child and her family, and I would welcome them into my Jewish home anytime."
Multiple responses to Dayton's post asked about how a teacher could have approved the subject, or where the student's parents or guardians had been in the process of preparing such an inflammatory project.
The project also got a reaction from Tenafly Mayor Mark Zinna who said in his own Facebook statement, "No discussion of the murderer of six million Jewish people can ever be presented in a positive light."
"We have a responsibility to show our children right and wrong, and what we teach them now can impact their moral compass for years to come," he continued.
The mayor said the project has since been removed from the walls of the school and said that the Board of Education is investigating how the events unfolded starting several weeks earlier.
He also called for all to withhold judgement about the student before an investigation is complete.
"We will await the results of the Board’s investigation before considering further actions. The spreading of hateful speech is unacceptable, and we should not make the situation worse with assumptions or clouding our search for the truth with invective," Zinna wrote.