Toledo students’ paper cranes land in JapanWritten by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
One thousand paper cranes made by a local fifth-grade class took flight in March and landed safely in May in Japan, where they were recently presented at an international peace monument in Hiroshima.
The cranes were folded by Melissa Prior’s fifth-graders at Queen of Apostles School in Toledo after the class read “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” by Eleanor Coerr.
The book tells the true story of Sadako Sasaki, a young Japanese girl diagnosed with leukemia. She begins folding 1,000 paper cranes after hearing it will grant her a wish to get well, but dies before completing the feat.
More than 10 million paper cranes are sent to the Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima each year, coming from around the world, according to the city’s website. The monument symbolizes a prayer for world peace and the peaceful repose of the children killed by the atomic bomb.
Prior found out through an email from a city of Hiroshima employee on May 23 that the box had arrived. The email included photos of the class’s cranes at the monument, which she printed out for each class member.
The students were thrilled, Prior said in an email to Toledo Free Press.
“It couldn’t have come at a better time,” Prior said. “We got to give them their photos on the last day of regular classes this year. What perfect timing. I was happy to see that the project had a close to it before summer break.”
The cranes were mailed in one large box on March 1, said Prior, who suspects delivery was delayed because of the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan on March 11.
“We tried to flatten the cranes so we wouldn’t need more boxes,” she said. “It cost almost $70 to mail all of those!”
The Children’s Peace Monument was built in 1958 in honor of Sasaki, who was exposed to the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima when she was 2, contracted leukemia nine years later and died in 1955, when she was 12.
The monument, located in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, features a three-legged pedestal topped by the bronze figure of a girl holding up a folded crane. On either side of the pedestal are the suspended figures of a boy and girl, symbolizing a bright future and hope. The stone underneath the pedestal reads, “This is our cry. This is our prayer. For building peace in this world.”
The city of Hiroshima is accepting suggestions on what to do with the thousands of cranes after they are offered to the monument in order to “reincarnate” them for another purpose, according to its website.
On May 20, in conjunction with the paper crane project, Queen of Apostles School hosted visiting author Christine Petrell Kallevig, who specializes in telling stories using origami.
“The fifth-graders were proud to be able to tell her about what we did,” said Prior, who said students and staff members received an autographed copy of Kallevig’s book thanks to a donation from The Andersons.