Jan 29 2010 by David Wynn, Kilmarnock Standard
AN inspirational project using paperclips to commemorate Holocaust victims has captured the imagination of school pupils across the area.
As part of a range of studies to mark Holocaust Memorial Week, youngsters have been taking part in a remarkable attempt to collect one million paperclips.
Once that figure is reached they will be used to create a permanent memorial in East Ayrshire to those who suffered at the hands of the Nazis.
The Paperclips Project is the brainchild of teachers Lauren Dixon, of Grange Academy, and Katie Winterburn, of Cumnock Academy.
The significance of paperclips is that in the 1940s they were worn as a silent protest against the Nazi regime in Norway.
Pupils from Grange and Cumnock have already collected around 50,000 and now the project is spreading to other schools in the area, including Kilmarnock, Loudoun and St Joseph’s Academies, and Park School.
English teacher Lauren Dixon said: “The Paperclips Project allows pupils to explore issues such as prejudice, religious intolerance and immigration. It provides cross-curricular working opportunities which incorporate key elements of Curriculum for Excellence.
“There are jars in every classroom to collect paperclips which pupils bring in. But we are always on the lookout for more!”
A similar project was done previously in the USA, when Whitwell Middle School, Tennessee, collected 30 million paperclips in 1998.
Holocaust Memorial Week runs from January 25 to 31.
Pupils who have visited Auschwitz will be leading assemblies on the theme in their schools. In Grange, one English class is working on The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas; modern languages classes are working on various projects including The Diary of Anne Frank; in drama, pupils are working on Holocaust-themed scripts, and art students are creating memorials.
Councillor Douglas Reid, leader of East Ayrshire Council, said: “This project is about understanding the legacy left by all the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, not just that of one particular group of people.”