Gurnee school district apologizes for Hitler comic assignment

Woodland Elementary School District 50 sent a letter to the community Thursday apologizing to those in the Gurnee-based district concerned about a class assignment regarding the rise of Nazi Germany.

"The intent of the student activity was to help students understand the complex issues leading up to World War II, not to minimize the atrocities of Nazi Germany," reads the letter signed by school board President Carla Little and Superintendent Joy Swoboda.

Students in an eighth-grade language arts class received an assignment Monday called "If You Give a Hitler a Country," a play on the popular children's book "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie." The assignment sought to compare the hard-to-please mouse from the book with the Nazis, and required students to create a comic strip explaining European appeasement before World War II.

The handout for the assignment featured the image of a character from the children's show "My Little Pony" saluting in a Nazi uniform.

The letter states the "fun" and "cartoonish" elements of the assignment did not fully represent the intent of the teachers or school board policy.

"I think the teacher had the best intentions," district spokeswoman Carolyn Waller Gordon said. "The intent was not designed to be demeaning to any group of people out there."

Kelly Masterton, a district parent who posted the assignment on her Facebook page Tuesday night, eliciting numerous complaints about it, said she hoped the district would offer more of a response than Thursday's letter.

"The school looks like they're going to do nothing about it," Masterton said.

Gordon said could not comment as to whether the teacher would face discipline.

Comic strip assignment about Hitler's rise raises questions at Gurnee school