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Mickey191 BS: Texas Kids Honor Holocaust Children (3) BS: Texas Kids Honor Holocaust Children 05 Nov 07

Subject: Heartwarming Holocaust Story

12:00 AM CDT on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2007
By ELIZABETH LANGTON / The Dallas Morning News

Eighth-graders at Garland's Memorial Preparatory School know the value of a penny. Students at Memorial Preparatory School displayed the nearly 500,000 pennies collected so far to represent children who died in the Holocaust.

To them, it is a treasure."We think of the pennies as children," student Renay Timberlake explained.Two years ago, the eighth-grade class started a campaign to collect 1.5 million pennies one for each child killed during the Holocaust.

Two classes since have continued the project. When the goal is met, the money $15,000 will be donated to the Dallas Holocaust Museum for its new downtown building.

"I think it's a fantastic project," said the museum's executive director, Elliott Dlin. "It has a clear goal of helping them visualize the magnitude of the tragedy, but it also does something of social value."

The students on the Garland school district campus were inspired by the documentary Paper Clips, which chronicled the efforts of a middle school in tiny Whitwell, Tenn., to collect 11 million paper clips one for each person killed by the Nazis during World War II.

"But we wanted something that, at the end, we didn't just have a bunch of things," said teacher Mary Theobald.

Large plastic collection jars were placed around the school, and the students filled them with pennies scavenged off the ground, left over from allowances and bummed off friends and relatives. One girl's aunt shipped rolls of pennies from California, spending nearly as much on postage as she put in the package.

So far, the school has collected 490,000 pennies, about one-third of its goal. Last week, the students spread the pennies on the gym floor to help them understand the enormity of the number."All those pennies on the ground it was overwhelming," said eighth-grader Jacki Webber. "It's like history right here."

The Holocaust wiped out entire families who never received proper burials or grave markers, said eighth-grader Reagan Buff. "It's haunting," she said. "These pennies are the only evidence that they were here on this Earth."

The students treat the pennies with reverence, Ms. Theobald said, and were reluctant to step on them when they created the floor display. They always pick up pennies discarded on the ground.
"I don't think we'll ever look at pennies the same way," she said.

Concentration camp survivor Rosa Blum of Dallas visited the school's display. Before she left, Mrs. Blum held five pennies in her hand to represent the sister and four brothers she lost in the Holocaust.

"It was the most fabulous, wonderful thing I have ever seen," she said of the eighth-graders' project. "I find the children very amazing and wonderful. I think we have a beautiful future in our children."
Museum officials will honor the pennies project at a dinner next week with the Keeper of the Flame award, which recognizes significant contributions to educating the public about the Holocaust. State Sen. Florence Shapiro of Plano, whose father co-founded the museum, is also receiving the award.
Renay said the project feels like a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"No matter what else we learn this year, this will stick with us," added Jacki.

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