Highlands middle schoolers create silent reminder of genocide
By Brian C. Rittmeyer
Published: Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 12:06 a.m.
The bones will tell the story.
In June, handmade symbolic bones will be spread across the National Mall in Washington in an arts-meets-activism project.
It's meant to bring attention to the fact that genocide isn't just a subject of history, but that it's happening today.
More than 200 bones crafted from newspaper by students at Highlands Middle School will be among them.
Arts teacher Louise Harvilla learned of the One Million Bones project and got students working. It became an extension of their study of the Holocaust.
“Most people go about their daily lives and think Hitler and genocide are done, that it's in the past. It's not,” Harvilla said. “It still goes on today.”
Highlands Middle School students were scheduled to leave on Wednesday for Washington for the annual class field trip to the nation's capital. They are taking their symbolic bones to deliver to a representative of the project.
Their bones will be added to others crafted by students, artists and activists from all 50 states and 28 countries to honor victims and survivors of genocides and mass atrocities, said Naomi Natale, founder and director of One Million Bones, based in New Mexico.
More than 1,000 schools across the country are participating, she said.
Natale said she started One Million Bones in 2009 to bring attention to genocide and mass atrocities in places such as Sudan, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma and Somalia.
It will culminate with the installation scheduled for June 8-10 at the National Mall.
“These conflicts go on with little attention paid to them and next to no action taken,” she said. “I'm interested in how we can connect people emotionally to an issue and personally to an issue. I think it's a role art can play.”
Education is a major component of the effort.
“One of the things we found out doing this work is how many adults, college students and high school students don't know what genocide is, let alone that it happens today,” Natale said. “We use the symbol of the bone to remind us that we belong to each other, and to recognize our common humanity.”
As part of the project, the Bezos Family Foundation, through its Students Rebuild initiative, will donate up to $500,000 to the humanitarian organization CARE, which will use the money for relief efforts in the Congo and Somalia.
Highlands Middle School is among 800 teams registered for One Million Bones through Students Rebuild, said Sabrina Urquhart, manager of Students Rebuild. One Million Bones is the third “challenge” it has issued to students and educators.
Students Rebuild was founded to raise money to rebuild schools in Haiti after a devastating earthquake in January 2010. Its second project was in Japan, after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
“The idea is that we connect with an organization that is already under way,” Urquhart said. “They're working on an issue or project and we partner with them.”
Natale said the amount of bones Highlands Middle School students have made is “fantastic.”
“All those bones will represent their voices and their actions,” Natale said. “Their voices and their actions will be represented in a very powerful and sacred space on the National Mall, even if they can't join us in person.”
Harvilla said students across all of the middle school's grades shaped rolled up newspaper into thigh bones, arm bones and ribs.
Students also wrote poems, some of which will be inscribed onto the bones.
“It's probably the first time as an art teacher I've been able to involve students on a national level,” she said. “It's opening their eyes to something we didn't realize existed as we go about our daily lives.”
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Deer Creek mine discharge project should be wrapped up by late spring
- Man to face DUI-homicide trial for Route 28 wreck
- Steelers score with Springdale fundraiser
- Alle-Kiski car dealers ready for thaw
- Wreck closed Leechburg Road in Lower Burrell early Friday
- Student artwork covers walls of Harmar Township Municipal Building
- New Kensington man charged with scrap metal theft
- 3 more charged in Harrison beating
- Charges against police chief have Springdale mayor crying foul
- Suspected Tarentum heroin dealer remains on the run
- Fat Tuesday brings out the paczki, a Polish pre-Lenten tradition