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Georgia 5th Grader Leads ‘Butterfly Project’ To Honor Child Holocaust Victims

Fifth-grader Rose Calvillo has a goal to commemorate the 1.5 million children who died during the Holocaust. She wants to see 1.5 million handmade butterflies decorating the walls of her Elementary School in Dalton, Georgia.

Calvillo and her classmates are learning about World War II and the Holocaust.

“It’s important that we remember the Holocaust, so that it doesn’t happen again. We need to remember everyone who died, but I think it’s really important to remember the children who died,” she told the Suwannee Democrat.

During her studies, Calvillo became aware of the Holocaust Museum Houston’s Butterfly Project, a worldwide effort to collect 1.5 million butterflies in honor of the children killed during the Holocaust. Soon after, she decided her school should have its own butterfly project.

The idea is inspired by a poem called “The Butterfly,” written by Jewish poet Pavel Friedman. He wrote the poem at age 21 while a prisoner in the Theresienstadt concentration camp, and ultimately died at Auschwitz.

In addition to the students making their own butterflies, Varnell has ordered 36 ceramic butterflies from the Butterfly Project to decorate. Each one comes with a biography of a child killed during the Holocaust.

Calvillo wrote a letter asking nearby schools to create their own butterflies and send them to Varnell.

“If we forget about it, if we ignore it, it’s like they died twice,” Calvillo says of Holocaust victims.

Contact Haley Cohen at




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