LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Every middle school student must learn about the Holocaust, but few receive the lesson in the unique way some Lufkin Middle School eighth graders are being taught.
It's called the Paper Clip Project.
The English literature class of Savanna Tutt is on a mission. The goal: Collect 11-million paper clips, which is the number of people killed during the Holocaust. Paper clips are used because that's what Norwegian students wore in resistance to Nazi control.
"People would show their support by wearing these little paper clips. They would make little necklaces, wrist bands, anything they could do to show their support to the Jews and all the people that were dying," said Rohan Sohini, an 8th grader.
Students are mailing hundreds of letters across the U.S. and around the world. Noted responses are coming in daily.
"Mr. Bush asked me to send you 24 paper clips, one for each of his and Mrs. Bush's 17 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren," said Aiden Henson, an 8th grader as he read from a letter.
"I got a letter from the Commonwealth of Virginia," said Dalaton Currie, an 8th grader.
"I got a letter from Paramount Pictures," said A.J. Savani, an 8th grader.
"I got a letter from Tom Stoppard, the English playwright," said Owen Burnhauser, an 8th grader. "He wrote 'Shakespeare In Love' and 'Annie Karenina.'"
So far one million paper clips have arrived. Each one symbolically represents diversity, acceptance, and tolerance.
"They may not all look the same, and all the people who perished in the Holocaust didn't look the same, so it's important to represent everybody," said Elizabeth Tatum, an 8th grader.
"It's important to know all the different cultures and interact with different people," said Journie Thomas, an 8th grader.
Tutt began thinking, "Where are we going to put all these paperclips?" She had an idea and started making calls, lots of calls. Texas State Railroad responded.
"We have been donated an original World War II 40-by-8 boxcar that we're actually going to completely renovate and place at the back of our campus," Tutt said.
It will be filled with paper clips and become a permanent Holocaust display for peers and the community.
Students said, "We can do it!"
Mail paper clip donations to Lufkin Middle School, 900 E Denman Ave, Lufkin, Texas 75901 to the attention of Ms. Tutt.
A documentary focusing on a Tennessee school that launched the Paper Clip Project can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofIHRaim06A&app=desktop