* James F. Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship

March 1, 2007

Purdue's Ackerman Center to sponsor student program on Holocaust

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - More than 400 local elementary and middle school students will participate in a student program as part of the 26th annual Greater Lafayette Holocaust Remembrance Conference. 

Sponsored by Purdue University's James F. Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship, the program will begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday (March 6) in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall.

"The student program was developed to provide area students and teachers with age-appropriate educational experiences about the Holocaust," said Phillip J. VanFossen, Ackerman Center director and the Ackerman Professor of Social Studies Education in curriculum and instruction.

"Holocaust education is a clear case of learning from history in order to avoid repeating mistakes of the past. An important step in preventing future occurrence of such atrocities is for current generations to learn the lessons of the Holocaust."

Children's author and Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan will discuss her book "Four Perfect Pebbles." 

Following Adolf Hitler's rise to power, the Blumenthal family was trapped in Nazi Germany. They eventually fled to Holland, where they faced further persecution when the Nazis later invaded that country. For more than seven years the Blumenthals were forced to live in refugee, transit and prison camps, including Westerbork in Holland and Bergen-Belsen in Germany. Though the family survived the camps, Lazan's father, Walter Blumenthal, succumbed to typhus just after liberation.

"Even though the Holocaust is ancient history to these sixth-graders, they are developing an understanding of the suffering and an empathy for the victims of this terrible human tragedy," said Janet Tipton, a teacher at Happy Hollow Elementary School. "Through literature, poetry and art, the students' emotional ties to the Holocaust victims are deepening and having a profound impact on their lives."

VanFossen said the Ackerman Center supports Holocaust education as part of its overall mission of citizenship education.

The James F. Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship, housed in Purdue's College of Education, was created in 1994 with a $2 million gift from James Ackerman, an Indianapolis cable television executive, and his wife, Lois.

The center also sponsors an annual Summer Institute on Citizenship Education for teachers, various workshops and civic education projects for teachers and students, and serves as a resource center for citizenship education materials.

Writer: Tanya Brown, (765) 494-2079,

Source: Phillip J. VanFossen (765) 494-2367,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Note to Journalists: Journalists are invited to cover the Holocaust program in Fowler Hall. For more information, contact Tanya Brown at (765) 494-2079,

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