A school in the Australian outback town of Alice Springs has apologized to a delegation of visiting Jewish exchange students after they were confronted by a young boy who, dressed as Adolf Hitler, was taking part in a school project.
The principal of St Philip’s College, Roger Herbert, made the profuse apology and said his school deeply regretted the incident. It came after a group of exchange students from a Jewish school in the Victoria state capital of Melbourne, some 1,400 miles away, witnessed a special assembly for Book Week led by a student dressed as the Nazi leader.
According to the ABC, the boy was applauded as one of the “best dressed” people at the assembly.
“We got them together and apologised and they were fantastic, absolutely fantastic, and accepting,” Mr Herbert told 783 ABC Alice Springs. “We also contacted the school to say look, this had happened, please understand.”
The student had been given permission from a teacher prior to arriving at the school dressed as Hitler.
“In a busy school, this student did go to a respected staff member said ‘is this OK?’ and the staff member said ‘yes’,” Mr. Herbert said.
“Now she is absolutely shattered that she said that, and I’m really concerned about her well-being.”
Bialik College principal Jeremy Stowe-Lindner said it was an unfortunate incident but children were unpredictable and St Philip’s had taken the right action since the Hitler incident.
“I understand that no malice was intended and I guess the coincidence of Jewish children visiting from Melbourne is a learning opportunity for the community, and that the principal assures me this is number one priority,” Mr Stowe-Lindner said.
The Guardian reports the St Philip’s College newsletter explained students had been encouraged to dress up as a book character of their choice as part of the celebrations. It read in part: “We hope this week will be enjoyably educational, and will foster or hone good reading habits in our students.”
In a letter to parents issued on Friday, Mr. Herbert took full responsibility for the incident.
“It has been a very distressing lesson for all concerned, and reminds our students that we can all, including adults, make mistakes. Our school strives to teach our students how to be responsible members of the community. That includes leading by example when we make a mistake, apologising and making amends for our error.”
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