- Associated Press - Sunday, May 15, 2016

SALTILLO, Miss. (AP) - Forty fourth-grade students, eight days and 1,048 origami cranes later, Saltillo Elementary School teachers Denise McBrayer and Stephanie Byrd have more colorful paper birds than they know what to do with.

For now, the paper cranes sit in flocks in the teachers’ classrooms, but in just a few short weeks, they’ll take flight to Japan.

The teachers plan to send them to the Hiroshima Peace Day Memorial Ceremony in Japan in honor of the Aug. 6 anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

Students in McBrayer’s and Byrd’s classes have been studying World War II.

Throughout the unit, the students have learned about Pearl Harbor, the atomic bombs and the aftermath of both the bombs and the war itself.

The students then read a story about a 12-year-old Japanese girl named Sadako who suffered from leukemia as a result of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Throughout her last years of life, Sadako worked to make 1,000 paper cranes because according to a Japanese myth, this would bring her one wish.

Her wish was for world peace.

The students were inspired and have since used their downtime at school and at home to make the paper cranes.

“It just blew up,” McBrayer said. “I had cranes piled high on my desk. They were buying their own paper, they do this at recess, they’re bringing paper to lunch and some of them have brought in cranes that they’ve made at home.”

The students said learning to make the cranes was difficult, but they eventually got the hang of it.

“My first one turned out like it came out of the garbage can,” Adam Mallette said.

Students brought in paper in all colors and patterns, from neon orange to leopard print, as material to make the cranes.

“We like to use a lot of colors for them so they all look different,” fourth-grader Kalea Smith said.

Although she hasn’t quite figured out how to pack them all up, McBrayer plans to mail the paper cranes during the last week of school.

“They’re learning that this is not about us, but that we can make a difference in the world,” McBrayer said.


Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, https://djournal.com

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