Fontenot surely knew when he chose the play that he would be taking on a powerful subject. The story of the little Jewish girl from the Netherlands who spent over two years during World War II hiding from the Nazis in a sealed-off room made him and his cast and crew members feel as though they should do something to bring attention to the social injustices of today’s society.
After seeing what some students at Catholic High of New Iberia were doing as part of an eighth grade Language Arts lesson on The Diary of Anne Frank, Fontenot decided to follow their lead.
“The students at Catholic High are attempting to collect a paper clip for each of the six million Jewish people who were killed during the Holocaust,” said Fontenot. “They are calling it ‘The Paper Clip Project.’ Their story was picked up by an area newscast and before you knew it they had a Facebook page and people are now sending them paper clips to help them with their project.”
However, Fontenot realized that collecting six million clips was a pretty tall order for his student performers. So he decided on a number that would be somewhat more reachable for his students. He decided to try to acquire one clip for each thousand of the Jewish people who were killed. Not that it would make their task any less difficult.
“For those, like myself, who aren’t that good in math that makes 6,000 paper clips,” he said. “We’ve already received approximately 3,000 of them and now we’re just waiting for the rest.”
Fontenot is now approaching businesses around town to see if they will display the clips in front of their buildings. So far he has lined up Brandt’s Jewelry, Cafe Joppe and Gremillions. However, he expects to see more paper clips hanging up in downtown Crowley.
“So far not one of the businesses we’ve approached has told us ‘no,’” he said. “This is a social issue that needs to be addressed, to think that six million people were killed because of their religion is very sad indeed.”
According to both Fontenot and Brandt’s Jewelry owner Jay Antis (who is Jewish himself), who already has his clips hanging from the overhang outside of his business, Antis was somewhat surprised when the students from Notre Dame - a Catholic school - approached him with the idea.
“I asked why a Catholic school would be so interested in recognizing the Holocaust,” said Antis.
“I replied that we’re all God’s children,” said Fontenot.
So what are Fonenot and his cast and crew going to do once they are finished with their paper clip hangings?
“We’re going to send them to the students at Catholic High to help them with their project,” replied Fontenot. “They still have a long way to go before they reach their goal.”
If the goal of both schools is to raise awareness that social injustice still exists in places around the world, then both of their projects have already been a success.