Daily Archives: September 21, 2008

A Day Of Peace

I was going to catch you up on all the (garter stitch!) knitting and Chicago happenings, now that I have been reunited with my camera cable at home as of late last night.

But I came home to find there was an event happening this afternoon that I didn’t know about (not unusual, school-related events at our house are often on a need-to-know basis until the last minute, and I was gone).  And I find I need to tell you about that instead.

The Gothlet’s class was participating in a celebration of the International Day of Peace today, September 21.  This is not an anti-war demonstration.  This is a yearly global holiday established in 1982 to mark positive efforts towards peace in our communities and our world.

Her class was part of it at their own request, because of a special project they saw to completion over the span of two school years, and I didn’t know the whole story until I heard it today.

First, some background.  The Gothlet attends, as did her big sister, a Montessori charter school within the public school system, which has been an incredible experience for learning and growth.  (They first attended a Montessori preschool, as many kids do, and that was wonderful.  I’m so glad we had the opportunity to continue in this educational paradigm.)  Montessori stresses children taking responsibility in many ways – for solving interpersonal problems, for cleaning up after themselves, for choosing their work daily from among the different areas they need to master.  And doing it all quietly and respectfully.  Projects initiated by students are welcomed.

Last year, the Gothlet became interested in origami but had trouble following directions from a book when it came to folding paper cranes, which is a bit tricky at one point until you see it.  The RockStar’s good friend, who is Japanese-American, showed her, and suddenly little paper cranes started appearing all over our house!  The RockStar’s friend told the Gothlet the story of Sadako Sasaki and about Japan.

Not long after that, the Gothlet’s multi-age class of 4th and 5th graders read the story Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.  The Gothlet asked her teacher if the class could fold 1000 paper cranes for peace.  Her teacher said they could if the Gothlet organized it.

So the Gothlet taught all the students how to fold cranes.

And, in little bits of time here and there, they folded cranes.

They didn’t finish by the end of the year, though.

So the students begged their teacher to save their cranes over the summer.

This fall, they finished folding the 1000th crane, and assembled all the cranes onto a peace sign platform; some of the 5th graders are now 6th graders, and some new 4th graders helped too.  It was truly a cooperative, student-initiated project that was entirely done by these amazing children, and sparked by my Gothlet.

(She’s in the right front, next to her teacher.)

She and two other students got up and told Sadako’s story to the peaceful assembly.

Wow.  If you had been there, I think you might have had a lump in your throat too.

There were several other speakers, a song, one more picture,

and a short march for peace.  Carrying the cranes!   Talk about cooperative effort…

Then treats at the People’s Food Co-op across the street from the park were necessary!  Well-deserved, beyond a doubt.

I feel lucky to have a venue to share how proud I am of my daughter and her entire class.  Particularly because this was their idea from start to finish.

And if their efforts cause them, or us their parents, or anyone who is there or who sees this, to think of peace as something more than the absence of war: if one more person learns Sadako Sasaki’s story and is touched by it: then those one thousand beautiful cranes will have had an effect beyond this afternoon, and well beyond the year they took to make.

I hope so.