When every student at Covington Middle School planted daffodil bulbs last week, they were doing more than just enjoying the time outside.
The students—more than 650 in total—became the first in Austin ISD to be part of The Daffodil Project. The goal of the project is to plant 1.5 million daffodils to represent children killed during the Holocaust.
Shirley Hartmann, co-sponsor of the project at Covington, said there is a strong Social and Emotional Learning component to the project, which also aims to bring attention to human rights issues facing children worldwide.
"Empathy is where it all starts—what that means and how to understand it," she said.
Students learn about the concept of empathy, and also discuss times they've personally felt like their human rights have been violated, she said.
Lessons include poetry, videos and student speeches, and concluded with students reflecting on, "My hope for the world is…"
"They're very excited about the project," said Hartmann, who teaches a sixth-grade World Cultures class. "Some of the kids told me that as they were planting [the bulbs], they were thinking about people they had lost."
The students' written reflections will be displayed as part of a mural at the school beginning next week.
Eighth-grade teacher Jeffrey Bryan said he and his students liked being part of the bigger effort.
"We're just one small part of a much larger initiative," he said. "We're making a connection to something so much larger than us."
Since The Daffodil Project began in 2010, nearly 280,000 flowers have been planted.