Huntsville Police identify fallen veteran officer

5th graders FaceTime with a Holocaust survivor

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- It's not very often that we get to meet the people who document their own experiences through major events in history.

On Monday, Monrovia Elementary fifth graders got to meet an author -- and a Holocaust survivor -- through a FaceTime call.

Jesse Schmitt was able to introduce his students to Ruth "Luncia" Gruener whose book, "Destined to Live," follows her and her family as they were forced into hiding during World War II.

"It's a story of survival, how kids go through things, how to not judge a book by its cover, and so that we can learn how to treat each other a lot better," explained Schmitt.

The students were eager to ask questions. "We got to know what actually happened if it wasn't in the book," said student Lela Hoover.

Schmitt says usually reading is an area most kids don't like, so he tries to bring it to life to enhance the experience. "We did skits, about the story we wrote poetry, we did little reenactments in class."

But hearing the story straight from the person who lived it is a precious opportunity.

"I think it was an incredible experience because there's not a lot of holocaust survivors nowadays," said student Savannah Jackson.

The lessons they've learned from the book and meeting Gruener are priceless. "To be thankful for what you have because Luncia didn't have anything," explained student Jameo Myrie.

"She overcame this and how I could overcome anything because as kids for the next generation I think it's really important," said student Sage Foster.

The students say being kind and accepting other people who they are is a path to keeping this from ever happening again.

"We shouldn't treat people like this no matter what race or religion they are. Everybody's equal and it doesn't matter," Foster said.

During the FaceTime call, Gruener told them her message is to not treat each other with hate and to love people for who they are.

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