Two years ago the 6th graders at Seymour Middle School started a project. That project was to collect six million can tabs to represent the six million Jewish people, many of which were elderly and children, who died in concentration camps during the Holocaust. This past week, the project came to an end.
Middle School teacher Michele Ballard said she started the program because she and other teachers were infuriated when they went to teach the section about WWII and the Holocaust to their students. Ballard teaches history and science at the Middle School. “The text books have about two paragraphs on the Holocaust. It was terrible. So we as teachers brought in supplemental information so our students could learn what happened during that time”, stated Ballard.
What started out as a school project quickly turned into a community mission. “People from all over the community started bringing in can tabs. They collected them in the cafeteria, teachers today tell me they can’t take a can tab off without saving it anymore” stated Ballard. One survivor and member of the community brought in a five-gallon bucket full of the tabs.
To the students, they are not just tabs, they represent life. As Ballard puts it, “Any of my students can pick up a tab and you ask them what it is, they won’t say it’s a can tab – they will tell you that it’s a life. Those caps represent the lives of those that died at the hands of hatred. ” Ballard stated that approximately thirteen million people died during the Holocaust. If they didn’t fit thze “profile” their lives were taken. That included gypsies, even some Germans.
Ballard said it almost made her want to cry seeing all the tabs piled on top of one another. “It’s really going to be hard to stop collecting them now.” The students who have been working on this project are moving on to High School next year. The amount of tabs collected totaled close to the six million mark. The tabs (or the money collected from them) will be being donated to the Ronald McDonald House.

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