West Tennessee yearbook photo of students dressed as Nazis raises questions

(Photo: Local Memphis)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – A photo of two West Tennessee middle school students in Nazi attire appeared in a yearbook.

The Germantown Municipal School District says the Houston Middle School students were role playing during a lesson about Nazi Germany, and apologized for the image.

The district is reviewing the incident, including lesson plans and procedures for proofing yearbooks.

“It’s an image without context, is understandably upsetting to a lot of people,” Rabbi Katie Bauman of Temple Israel in east Memphis said.

Rabbi Bauman admits she was taken aback, to see the image of middle school students in Nazi clothing.

“That picture contains symbols, contains these images that are very powerful, that carry with them a very painful story to my people in particular,” Rabbi Bauman said.

District leaders said the picture came out of a lesson from the curriculum ‘Facing History And Ourselves’.

In a statement, Houston Middle School’s principal said, “Through role-playing, the students were asked to draw conclusions about unjust laws in Nazi Germany. We apologize that the yearbook picture may have offended anyone or has caused misunderstanding of our intent. Houston Middle celebrates diversity.”

Facing History’s Memphis chapter’s Marti Tippens Murphy says the picture does not reflect the program’s intentions.

“We strongly discourage students dressing up as Nazis or role playing,” Marti Tippens Murphy said. “Our organization is to support educators and students so that they can become informed, so that they could learn from history and it can help them make better decisions today.”

A district spokesperson said any parent or student who would like a refund of the yearbook can do so at the Houston Middle School office.

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