By John Cohen, District Communications Director
Hearing about and seeing the devastation caused by Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and damaged nuclear reactors, Pioneer Middle School students were determined to do something to help those who are suffering. For their project, they decided to fold a thousand or more origami paper cranes. Once the cranes were completed, the sold them for a dollar each with the proceeds going to Japanese relief.
Many Pioneer Middle School students read the book, Sudako and the Thousand Paper Cranes before starting the process of actually folding the cranes. They did this to gain an understanding of what the cranes meant to a little girl dying of radiation sickness (leukemia) at the end of World War II. They then compared that situation with what Japan is experience, now, during its current triple disasters.
“You never know what is going to click with children, especially struggling learners, but this ancient art of origami really stimulated their need to move their fingers and manipulate the paper. These students were actually some of the most successful,” said Jan Steward, Pioneer middle School teacher.
“I’ve never seen students so motivated to help ease other peoples’ suffering and wanting to do something hands on,” she continued.
The cranes that were folded are strung on chains of 20 each and hang in the grade level hallways at the school. With every chain that went up, students could see how much money they were raising asking for a $1 donation for each crane. A total of 1,800 cranes were folded and $1,300 was earned for this relief effort.
Pioneer’s cranes were hung in memory of Sudako and others who died in Hiroshima along with those who perished during the recent Japanese disasters. There is a bell hung at the end of each string of cranes to honor those who have passed away.
Today, this tradition of folding 1,000 cranes represents a form of healing, and hope during challenging times.