NORMAN — The rustle of paper could be heard as students meticulously folded one crane, then another and another Friday afternoon. After reading the inspiring story, “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes,” Cleveland Elementary School fifth graders made their own paper cranes, a hands-on activity reflective of the hope and peace that can be engendered despite tragedy.
This is but one of the many lessons the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial seeks to teach the youth of America. Today, Norman students, the state and the country will remember the domestic terrorist attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City that occurred 19 years ago.
Hundreds of cranes hang as if stars in the sky at the end of the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial Museum, folded by children around the world who sent the paper cranes to help Oklahoma City heal. The Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial’s Hope Trunk program takes further steps toward healing by educating youth that Oklahomans stand strong together.
Cleveland Elementary School has been participating in the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial’s Hope Trunk program for six years. Principal Ty Bell said the school considers the Hope Trunk program a part of its regular fifth grade curriculum. The Hope Trunk program is made available through grants to students grades kindergarten through high school across the United States.
“We plan for it every year as we do the rest of our curriculum. The state standards may change; Common Core may change, but the need for this (Hope Trunk) will never end,” Amy Young, 5th grade teacher at Cleveland, said.
A well-worn plastic trunk with yellow stickers identifying pit stops in towns small and large, the Hope Trunk includes DVDs, books, artifacts from the bombing and news clippings. The trunk remains at a school for two weeks before being returned to the OKC Bombing Memorial and shipped to another school. Materials in the trunk address the bombing as well as a variety of related topics such as character and bullying. The trunk also includes curriculum and activity ideas for teachers, and a stuffed animal from the memorial fence that the school can keep as a reminder of the bombing.