Hitler Quote Displayed at Westside Middle School Prompts Action from District Administration


Image courtesy of Westside Community Schools Website

An email was sent out to members of the Westside community in regards to an Adolf Hitler quote being displayed at Westside Middle School.

On Monday, Feb. 1, an email was sent to all Westside staff members, students and families regarding an incident that had happened that day at Westside Middle School. The email addressed the actions of a teacher who chose to display a quote by Adolf Hitler as the “quote of the day” in a hallway. The email from Westside Middle School Principal Kimberly Eymann and Superintendent Mike Lucas included an apology and was followed up with a second email explaining some of the action that would take place.

“We used our morning announcements time and 30-minute homeroom period in all classrooms to discuss the severity of this situation,” Eymann and Lucas stated in the email.

Eymann and Lucas also said that they have been working closely with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to help guide them through the steps to come.

“The ADL helped us determine some appropriate videos and talking points to share with our students in all homerooms for the rest of the week, Wednesday – Friday,” Eymann and Lucas stated.

Eighth-grader Ryan Kugler said his classes are located in the same hallway area that the quote was displayed. Kugler said he is impressed with the way that the school has handled the situation.

“I think that the school is handling the situation pretty well, and I like how they are educating kids and teachers on why the quote being written was so wrong,” Kugler said.

Westside Director of Communications and Engagement Brandi Paul said that the administration was nothing shy of disturbed by the incident.

“We were very upset; so many of our students and staff and families and communities were,” Paul said. “We know the power of even hearing the name Hitler can have on any of us.”

Paul said she knows that many positive learning opportunities will come from this.

“We are trying to use it as a teaching moment for everyone: our staff, our students, our families,” Paul said. “We sent out resources encouraging families to talk about it at home.”

Since the quote was written on Monday, several news sources have covered the story. The Omaha World-Herald, WOWT, KMTV and The Times of Israel have all reported on the incident.

Paul said she is aware of the local and regional attention that the incident has received and highlighted the importance of sending an email to the community right away.

“We certainly understand that this has been all over the place; we can’t change that,” Paul said. “That was one of the reasons that we wanted to send out our messages to our school and our community first. That trust and transparency are so important to us… We wanted you guys to hear it from us first, to hear the facts and all of the details that we could provide first so you would know what was going on and you could reach your own conclusions yourself.”

Paul cited the quote by Charles R. Swindoll, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it,” to highlight how she hopes the incident will reflect on the Westside community.

“I hope that that’s what people think of Westside from this,” Paul said. “That we don’t just take a challenge. We don’t just accept something negative. We’re going to take that and get better from it. We are going to learn from it.”

Kugler said he thinks that seeing a quote written by Adolf Hitler could be more impactful on Jewish students like himself.

“I think that the quote shouldn’t have been written and that it was insensitive to many people at Westside,” Kugler said. “Being Jewish makes the quote have a bigger effect on me because I have lots of friends and family who would also not like the quote.”

Paul said she hopes that people who feel that the administration’s reaction to the incident was dramatic consider how they would feel if they had a different background. She said she also hopes that they consider how it may affect other students.

“Everybody is going to perceive this situation a little differently,” Paul said. “What we have to do as a school district is remember that we are serving 6,000 students from 6,000 different backgrounds with 6,000 different beliefs, and we want to support all of them.”

With the future in mind, Paul said that this mistake will have long-lasting effects on the district and the community as a whole.

“This isn’t something that is going to go away,” Paul said. “This is a commitment and a mission for us to improve all of those things… over the long term in our curriculum and in our culture inside our school.”