OUTSIDE SEATTLE -- Fifth-grade students at a local elementary school are transforming colorful squares of paper into cranes as a message of compassion to the grieving families in Newtown, CT.
Cherry Crest Elementary School in Bellevue, along with more than a dozen other classrooms in the Bellevue School District, are partnering with a school in Bethel, CT, just 10 miles from Newtown, on the project. Students are helping Bethel High School reach its goal of constructing 26,000 paper cranes to hand out to families of victims of last Friday’s school shooting. Each family will receive a chain of 1,000 cranes.
Bellevue schools got involved when Cherry Crest fifth-grade teacher Brooke Stover contacted her friend at Bethel High to see how her students could help. Stover’s students, as well as those from two other Cherry Crest classrooms and the other district schools, jumped at the idea. As of midday Thursday, Dec. 20, Bellevue students already had created 2,500 paper cranes and expected to finish 1,000 more by Friday, Dec. 21.
The project highlights the district’s Virtue of the Month: Compassion.
“Their care and concern is inspiring,” Stover said. “Their positive energy, during a time of sadness, is contagious. My hope is that this project promotes this compassion and helps students cope and feel as if in some small way, they are helping those who are hurting so badly.”
When the project was started, only one student in Stover’s class knew how to fold a paper crane, a process which can involve up to 35 folds. On Thursday, all of the students sat at desks and at tables, working an assembly line of crane making.
“Even though it seems like a small act, we are helping all of the victim’s families heal just a little,” said Katie, one of Stover’s students.
At the front of Stover’s classroom, plastic bins are filled with completed cranes in every color of the rainbow. Some are made on shiny metallic papers. Others are printed with Hello Kitty designs. On Friday afternoon, the cranes will be shipped to the school in Bethel. Once there, they will be assembled into chains and delivered to the victims’ families.
“If everyone works together, we can help the families who lost a loved one,” said Scotty, another one of Stover’s students. “I hope this gift will help them overcome this rough time and stay strong, knowing kids in Bellevue are thinking of them.”
Parent Teacher Association chapters across the nation also are helping out.