Anniversary commemorates SEK student project that uncovered story of WWII hero

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It looks like a typical glass jar, but it’s anything but. It held pieces of paper that contained the true identities of children from the Warsaw, Poland, ghetto.

“It’s the story of a Polish Catholic woman who saved Jewish children, discovered by Protestant girls from rural Kansas,” explained “Life in a Jar” co-writer Megan Felt.

It and many others like it were buried under a tree to keep its precious contents from the hands of the Nazis in World War II.

These are the four people that started this project, all of which are now in education. Of course, Norm and Megan work at the Milken Center, Elizabeth is a teacher in Lebonon, Missouri, and Sabrina is a teacher in nearby Girard, Kansas.

Norm Conard knew his three students wanted to do a History Day project on unknown heroes of the Second World War. He had cut an article out of a magazine that mentioned Sendler’s name, and it was up to the students to do the rest.

“The whole project is an Internet project,” Conard explained. “We wouldn’t have found her without the Internet — the Internet was coming into being about that time.”

Eventually, the girls found Sendler to still be alive, and they went to Poland to meet her in person. She was tortured by the Nazi’s when they learned what she was doing, but is credited with saving 2,500 Jewish children that she adopted into non-Jewish families to keep then out of concentration camps.

“It’s a story for all people and all seasons and it’s about good triumphing over evil,” said Felt. “We must all remember how important it is everyday to step up and make a positive difference in our world.”

Her story was eventually made into a television movie. The center is a direct effect of the Life in a Jar project.

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