Anne Frank’s smiling face peered at visitors from across the Elk Grove community when they walked into Carroll Elementary School’s multipurpose room on Oct. 10.
Her image adorned a large glass case that contained 1.5 million bandages that were donated from schools around the world. Each bandage had the name of a child who died during the Holocaust. Frank’s name was displayed on a bandage near a side of the case. The Dutch-Jewish girl was 15 when she died from typhus while she was imprisoned at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945.
The world learned about Frank’s experience in hiding from Nazi authorities in Amsterdam, and her reflections on life after her diary was published a few years after her death.
“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains,” she wrote in her diary.
Carroll Elementary staff and students taught visitors about Frank during their “Holding Hands with Anne” exhibit. They partnered with staff members from Amsterdam’s Anne Frank House museum, which loaned informational displays about Frank’s life, her family’s hiding place, and the genocidal persecution of Jewish Europeans.
The Anne Frank House’s director also trained a few Carroll students to serve as docents to guide visitors. Sixth grade student Morgan Asuncion hoped that the exhibit will teach visitors about tolerance.
“It really doesn’t matter what people look like or what religion they follow or what they do, you should always accept others for who they are,” Asuncion said. “It (Holocaust) should never happen again.”
Parent Bri Tufts held her baby daughter, Jacqueline when she viewed the displays on Frank as well as the atrocities committed under the Hitler regime.
“The things that people were doing to each other always baffle me,” she said.
Carroll students donated thousands of bandages for The Bandage Project’s box. That project of collecting bandages to remember young Holocaust victims was started 11 years ago by Lisa Liss, a teacher at Sacramento’s Woodlake Elementary.
During the Holding Hands with Anne exhibit’s Oct. 10 open house, quotes from Frank’s diary were displayed on tables. Visitors also saw artwork that was inspired by those quotes.
“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart,” one of her displayed quotes read.
Carroll’s principal, Jack Ferreira, said that students from other schools were also invited to visit the exhibit. He noted that students felt connected with Frank since she was a fellow child.
“They really relate to it since it’s someone their age,” Ferreira said.
Karen Burnat, a Carroll teacher and an organizer of the Holding Hands with Anne project, noted that Frank would have turned 90 this year if she survived. She said that she wants the exhibit to spark conversations between parents and students about the Holocaust.
“A lot of parents would like to talk to their children about things like this, but they don’t know how to start it,” Burnat said. “This can be a starting point for them to discuss tougher topics with their children. (They can) talk about tolerance and what it means to stand up for people who are not in a position to protect themselves.”
The Anne Frank exhibit will continue at Carroll Elementary for students to view until Oct. 18.