The student body in the advanced placement geography course at the Waxahachie Ninth Grade Academy in Texas was divided into “Jews” and “German citizens.” Some of those playing the role of Jews were actually physically assaulted, according to the report.
The Associated Press, the largest and most influential news-gathering organization in the world, quickly picked up the story. Soon, calls were coming in to the school from around the world.
There was just one hole in the story – purposely omitted from the reports, according to students participating in the program. The abuses took place last year. There have been no reports of such abuses in the program this year.
The program, now in its fifth year, which includes teachers playing the roles of Nazis, is designed to bring home the reality of intolerance and a mob mentality during the Holocaust, school officials said.
The TV station and the AP both reported the program led to incidents of spitting and pushing. But, according to students involved, those problems all took place last year. Principal John Aune said the abuses were limited to classmates taking advantage of the discrimination to get ahead in the lunch line.
“But absolutely no children were hurt on my campus,” said Aune, who has spent the past two days visiting with students from the geography class. He said the students who spoke to the TV station were relaying secondhand reports.
Students in the class were given a Star of David to wear, while an example of the teachers playing the roles of Nazis was demanding that students go to the end of the cafeteria line, Aune said.
Aune said he was hoping to see other students, comparable to bystander Germans, stand up for the students tagged as Jews. Instead, they largely ignored those being discriminated against, Aune said.
Waxahachie is about 30 miles south of Dallas.
“Last year the project went way too far,” explained Kevin Crouch, a student currently in the program. “Kids were pushed down stairs, spit on, kicked, pushed, beaten. This year was nothing to be compared. But a worried parent heard the stories of last year’s problems and mistook them for this year. He called the local CBS station and they sent a reporter to the school. Two of my friends said nothing bad happened this year. When the CBS reporter asked, ‘What happened in the past?,’ they answered with details. The reporter edited out the fact that they spoke of last year, and made it out to be this year.”
Crouch said the program was valuable and achieved its goals.
“Our principal, John Aune, got calls from Germany and Australia asking what was going on.” he said. “He set them straight. Now the crusade begins to reveal the truth, starting with the local newspaper, which published the true story, and told of CBS’ truth-twisting ways. The school, district, students, parents, and community stand by the project, and the school district says the project will continue next year.”