Saturday, November 24, 2001

WILLIAMSBURG (AP) Stuyvesant High School, which is just a few blocks from New York’s World Trade Center, served as a makeshift triage center for hundreds of people injured in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Now the 10-story building displays thousands of gifts sent from around the world, including stuffed animals, plants, flags, ribbons, letters and videos.
The decorations greet 3,000 students who must go past ground zero every day to go to school. Added to those decorations soon will be a gift from art students and staff at the College of William & Mary 1,000 Japanese origami cranes.
The cranes, made into garlands, represent peace and good will, according to Japanese tradition.
“We haven’t received anything like this,” said Renee Levine, building coordinator at the high school. “They’re absolutely gorgeous. I’m trying to find the perfect place for them.”
The mass folding took about a month, starting with a celebration for Japanese Cultural Day at the college’s Muscarelle Museum of Art.
The idea of folding cranes occurred to Lanette McNeil, the museum’s curator, when she remembered a legend of the Japanese cranes.
According to the legend, a young girl named Sadako lay suffering from cancer in Hiroshima shortly after the United States dropped the first atomic bomb over the city.
Her friends told her that if she folded 1,000 origami cranes, her wish to be healed would be granted by the gods. Sadako died before she reached 1,000.
But her friends finished the task and raised money to build a statue in her honor. The statue now sits in Hiroshima’s Peace Park and shows the young girl holding a golden crane.
Two student groups, the Muscarelle Museum of Art Student Society and the Japanese Cultural Association, took the idea and organized the project, Miss McNeil said.
Members of the entire community helped fold the 1,000 paper cranes, including college alumni, staff and museum visitors, as well as students at nearby Bruton and Lafayette high schools, she said.
“People were really interested in it, especially people who had never done origami before,” said junior Sarah Ruhland, co-chairman of the museum’s art students society.
“It was something they could actively do, and it’s kind of therapeutic,” said Miss Ruhland, who folded more than 200 of the cranes herself. “I wanted to make sure it got done.”
When they finished the cranes Oct. 27, during an open house at the museum on homecoming weekend, they had to decide where to send them.
Bonnie Kelm, director of the museum, recalled a Newsweek article about the students at the Stuyvesant school, which was founded about 100 years ago as a manual trade school for boys.
The school is now a specialized school for gifted students in math, science and technology, drawing students from across the five boroughs in New York City.
The events of September 11 had a more horrifying impact on Stuyvesant students than most. They heard the planes crash and watched as thousands of terrified people fled.

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