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Martha's Vineyard Patch Whiz Kids: Chilmark School Crane-Makers

Students make cranes of wishes and hope for the people of Japan.

Students of the Chilmark School

Grades: Pre-school through 5th

Accomplishment: The students of the have taken on the mission of folding 1,000 origami cranes to raise awareness and give hope to those affected by last month's earthquake and tsunami in Japan. An ancient Japanese legend says that wishes, such as recovery from illness or great sadness, will come true for anyone who folds 1,000 paper cranes. With every additional folded crane, these students have become more aware of their hopes for the people suffering on an island some 8,000 miles away. At press time, the students had completed a daunting 450 cranes and were working full speed ahead to reach their goal.

Key to Awesomeness: The effort is led by 4th-5th grade multiage teacher Susan Larsen, who said she "just couldn't stop thinking about the people in Japan." After learning about a similar effort coming from the Japan Society of Boston, she contacted Society president Peter Grilli. As it turns out, Grilli has spent his summers in Tashmoo for years and was thrilled to hear from Larsen. Larsen and her students immediately went to work. "This comes right from the heart," said Larsen. "And I can see them thinking about it with each crane."

She's right: Making that many cranes has given her students time reflect on how they hope their gestures will help. "I'm happy to do this," said Hailey Lobo. Greta Gannon added, "It feels good that I'm helping." For Kelly Klaren, folding cranes has given her a powerful wish. "I just wish that everyone in the world could be as fortunate as we are," she said mid-crane.

Once the 1,000 cranes are completed, they will be presented, along with any monetary donations the school receives, to the Consulate General of Japan in Boston.

For more information on how to donate money or cranes, please contact Susan Larsen at sjlarsen@verizon.net

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