South Orangetown Central School District

SOMS students paint butterflies

The Butterfly Project relaunched at South Orangetown Middle School last month with presentations to sixth grade classes about the Holocaust and the dangers of hatred and indifference, followed by a hands-on art project last week.

Sixth graders painted ceramic butterflies to memorialize the 1.5 million children who perished during the Holocaust, to honor survivors and to symbolize their own commitment to kindness and acceptance.

The SOMS’ initiative was spearheaded in 2017 by eight students who were inspired by a documentary about The Butterfly Project, a nonprofit which uses the lessons of the Holocaust to cultivate empathy and social responsibility through art-making. The aim is to provide a powerful example of how bigotry, bullying and scapegoating can dehumanize both individuals and groups of people–and to emphasize the importance of standing up for one another.

“Witnessing the relaunch of The Butterfly Project at SOMS fills me with immense pride and hope,” said Assistant Principal Danielle Page. “I am grateful to our dedicated teachers, prevention counselor and student ambassadors for their commitment to fostering a culture of empathy and inclusion.”

The Butterfly Project activity marks SOMS’ final step in earning designation as a No Place for Hate School this school year. More than 1600 schools across the US are part of No Place for Hate, a decades-old program which works to develop student leadership and strengthen school communities to combat bullying and bias.