We took a special interest in the whooping cranes because one of the earliest ultralight experiments with Kent Clegg in 1997, brought whooping cranes to winter over at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge just south of Albuquerque. One of my students, who was just 3 years old at the time, remembers looking up and seeing the birds following a tiny plane.
We made timelines of the chicks’ development, created life-sized models of cranes, including a giant tangram crane the students could put together, followed the migration, and went on a very special field trip to the Festival of the Cranes at the Bosque del Apache.
Although we don’t have any whooping cranes at the Bosque right now, the sandhill cranes were beautiful and really brought to life our studies. As we stood in the cool, dark evening, admiring the glorious sunset, students were awestruck by the cacophony of honking as thousands of cranes, snow geese, Canada geese, and other waterfowl flocked back to the wetlands for the night. One of my boys later wrote this poem.
Cranes were also featured at the Art and Poetry Night. The entrance to our portable was illuminated by spotlights highlighting silhouettes of flying cranes, the idea of parent Marlene Squillaci, who also planned and conducted our art projects. Passing through the dark starlit night of the entry hall (created with black butcher paper and twinkling Christmas lights), you encountered a mural running the length of the classroom. Crane silhouettes, with poems written in silver, flew towards the sunrise. Along the bottom of the mural was a travelogue showing each of the states the cranes passed through on their migration.
Next was the Flying Cranes Quilt, orchestrated by parent, Jenni Johns. Each of the students contributed a quilt square they pieced and sewed together in the classroom. The fabric was a Japanese print with cranes! Pebble mosaics of cranes flying, roosting, and feeding graced the wall next to the quilt.
Finally the cranes arrived in FLORIDA, where another group of students and parents created wetlands including plants, a fog-making machine, life-sized cranes, and even a resident alligator.
In the center of the room we hung our thousand origami cranes that we folded after we read the story of Sadako. We also learned about the importance of cranes to many cultures in the world and decided to try our hand at haiku and Japanese calligraphy after reading a biography of Basho Matsuo, a 17the century poet, who traveled all over the world writing haiku . On the table, pastel sketches of cranes, haiku, and the Japanese calligraphy symbol for crane are framed in red, black, and royal blue silk. Thanks to Journey North for the inspiration for a marvelous year