Changing the World One Class at a Time
Sep 28, 2022 by Pat Black-Gould
I'm back from my recent travels where I spent a wonderful day at Whitwell Middle School, home of the Paper Clip Project. I couldn't wait to tell you about this events of the day, what I learned from my visit, and also how you can schedule your own visit.
During the morning, the students gave me a tour of The Children's Holocaust Memorial. They did a great job.
I also had the opportunity to spend time with Taylor Kilgore, the Holocaust Education teacher at the school, Principal Josh Holtcamp, and former Principal Linda Hooper. Linda and her staff began the Holocaust program at the school 20 years ago.
In the afternoon, it was an honor to share my book, The Crystal Beads, Lalka's Journey, with the students. For more information on The Crystal Beads, please access this report.
During my presentation at the school, a few kids from the Holocaust program ran the projector so the entire school could follow along as I read.
After the reading, the kids had so many thoughtful questions. I was so impressed with them.
The students in the picture below are part of the Holocaust program conducted at the school.
On the picture below (bottom left picture), two of the students are telling me about the 140 volumes of letters received from people around the world since the Paper Clip Project began twenty years ago.
There is also one binder containing mail from either Holocaust deniers or those writing negative letters criticizing the school for conducting such a program. Above the binders are artifacts sent by survivors and their families, synagogues, and schools worldwide.
On the picture bottom right, I'm autographing copies of my book and discussing why I chose to include The Paper Clip Project in the Afterword. After first visiting this school last year, how could I not share their incredible story? (You can learn more about The Paper Clip Project here.)
These students in the picture below are part of the Holocaust program at the school. In addition to learning about the Holocaust, they give tours to individuals and groups who come to visit, just like they did for me.
We're standing in the Artifacts Room of the Children's Holocaust Memorial. Note the items behind us. The room contains over 50,00 donations made by Holocaust survivors, family members, synagogues, church groups, and students worldwide.
In the below picture, I'm with Whitwell's staff. Former Principal Linda Hooper (right) began the Holocaust program and Paper Clip Project with her staff over twenty years ago. Although she is now retired, she continues to be an important part of this program and works with the students.
To her right is Taylor Kilgore. Taylor was a student at this school and participated in the program. After college, she obtained her master's degree in Holocaust Education and now runs the program.
To my right is Dr. Josh Holtcamp, the school's principal, who is a strong supporter of the Holocaust program and opened the door for me to tell the story about this school in my book.
In the back of us is a Torah over 100 years old. The Torah originated in Poshwal, Lithuania. The family that commissioned the Torah migrated to South Africa during WWII and later to Canada. The family offered the Torah to the school.
If you're interested in a tour of Whitwell, please call 423-658-5635. It will be worth it for you.
And if you're ready, you can purchase your copy of The Crystal Beads, Lalka's Journey here.