Bottle Caps in Memory of Holocaust
8th graders at Clear Creek Middle School collect bottle caps to represent those lost in the Holocaust.
Eleven million. That is the total of casualties that were suffered at the hands of the Nazis during World War II. Six million. That is the number of bottle caps Clear Creek Middle School’s Elite 30 are attempting to collect. What do these two things have in common? The students are collecting bottle caps to have a tangible grasp on how many lives were lost in the Holocaust. After studying about the Holocaust in class, 30 eighth grade students and teacher Jennifer Painter decided to create a project to educate themselves and their community about the gravity of the Holocaust. Inspired by a similar project at a school in Tennessee, the students decided to collect the plastic screw top caps, one cap for every life lost. The group is completely voluntary. These students spend their lunch periods twice a week and their enrichment period on Fridays counting, cleaning, collecting and sorting bottle caps. They have even decided to go outside the school halls to find their caps.
The students started placing boxes at local churches and some businesses, as well as in the halls of CCMS, to collect the needed number. Soon, they hope to expand into the county, maybe even reach out to one of the world’s largest disposer of plastic bottles: the Pentagon, who disposes of over 6,000 bottles a day. Currently, the students have collected over 11,000 caps for the effort. The group has learned a great deal about the Holocaust, doing research once a week on different aspects of the war. Recently, they began researching concentration camps. Eventually, they will get into the categorizing of prisoners. Painter hopes that this will help the students understand not only the severity of the Holocaust, but learn from hate crimes. Most of the students concur. They are now acutely aware of the negative impact hate crimes can have on a society. The students are seeking help from local businesses and community individuals. They are collecting plastic screw top caps, similar to the ones found on water and soda bottles, but the group will take screw caps from ointment tubes all the way up to container tops. Size isn’t an issue, but ingredients are. The caps must be all plastic, have threads on the inside and preferably clean. There is no central drop-off location at the moment, but caps can be dropped off at the school.