GRAND FORKS — A student-made Valentine’s Day poster bearing swastikas and a Nazi pun placed on the wall of a Grand Forks Central High School classroom has some parents asking why it was considered appropriate for school.
The poster, which was created as part of a literature class assignment, references the plot of “All The Light We Cannot See”, a novel about a blind French girl and a German boy who fall in love in Nazi-occupied France during World War II.
The center of the poster has an image of the novel’s cover, and the top of the poster reads "I did NAZI my love for you coming.” In the top left and bottom right corners are Nazi flags, and across the center are the words “Happy Valentine's Day."
Parents critical of the poster didn’t want to be identified for fear of backlash against their children. One of their main concerns was that referencing Nazism in a humorous way could normalize hateful ideas.
One mother described the poster as insensitive and fears the school didn't understand that using Nazi symbolism lightheartedly can be hurtful and offensive. She wants students to be better educated about the past and understand the gravity of Nazi symbols.
The parents concerned about the poster added that they don't believe the student had any bad intentions in creating the poster and that they hope this is an opportunity to educate students.
Officials with Grand Forks Public Schools said they were concerned by the imagery and about how anyone unfamiliar with the book would interpret the poster.
In a statement, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education for Grand Forks Public Schools Catherine Gillach said the poster has been taken down. No disciplinary action has been taken against the student who created the poster or the teacher whose class the poster was created in.
"Grand Forks Public Schools does not condone displaying imagery in our schools that is offensive in nature,” Gillach said. “All students should grow and learn in a safe and supportive environment."