One Thousand Good Wishes for Japan

By Faith Walauskas –

The 9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan March 11, the resulting tsunami and the threat of nuclear disaster has devastated that country and its citizens. People around the world are offering to help Japan recover from the disaster in any way possible.

Penn Manor students also “wish” to contribute their help.

A class in the art department is taking time from their normal assignments to fold 1000 origami cranes that will be sold during homeroom periods to raise money towards the Japan relief effort.

“It wasn’t the teachers’ idea, but rather the students’,” said art teacher Karen Gingerich. “The original idea was to sell the origami paper to students during homeroom, have them write a wish on the back, then return the paper to be folded and displayed in the administrators’ office.”

The cranes are folded by Penn Manor High School students.

The idea for the cranes is based on a story called Sadako Sasaki and the Thousand Paper Cranes.  The girl was only two years old when the U.S. dropped the atom bomb on her city (Hiroshima).  Several years later she developed leukemia, most likely from the bomb’s radiation.

Sadako folded cranes while she was in the hospital after a friend told her about a Japanese legend offering a cure from illness to anyone who could fold one thousand origami cranes.

But Sadako didn’t live long enough.  Her family and friends folded the cranes so that she could be buried with one thousand. She was only 12 years old when she died.

August 6 is Peace Day in Japan and people there leave thousands of paper cranes below a statue of Sadoko’s likeness to express their wish for peace in the world. Paper cranes are placed beneath Sadako’s statue by people who wish to remember Hiroshima and express their hopes for a peaceful world. Their prayer is engraved on the base of the statue: “This is our cry, this is our prayer; peace in the world.”

The cranes are colorful and varied.

“It was our 4th block drawing class,” said Gingerich.  “We’re working on a drawing we started last Monday that explores origami paper folding, using the shapes as the subject matter.

“We started the project on Tuesday, March 15, the earthquake happened on Friday the 11th,” Gingerich said.

“Sianna Emrich suggested the idea of 1000 cranes for Japan and I was immediately excited,” Gingerich recalled. “We started brainstorming, we talked about the story of the girl, the tradition (1000 wishes for hope, health, love).  We chose the symbol of hope.”

Gingerich said the students decided to use the cranes as a fundraiser to help the people of Japan and began folding the cranes immediately.

“We’ve folded 400 cranes already,” she said.  “Each crane displays a wish for hope. We will continue collecting donations to reach our goal of $1,000.”

Gingerich said any money raised will be going specifically to the children of Japan who have suffered from the disasters but she said they are not certain if they will donate through UNICEF, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, or through another charity.

“I love the symbolism behind the crane,” said Gingerich.  “These students are truly making a difference one crane at a time; the impact is pretty powerful.”

She said a table will be set up in the cafeteria next week for students to make donations.

Kira Klassen, who was instrumental in creating the crane project, shares an important connection with Japan – her father currently lives there.

Several hundred cranes were folded so far by art students.

“He didn’t like the earthquake at all, but he’s fine,” said senior Kira Klaassen, “They’re also feeling progressively larger aftershocks. The Internet’s been down in some parts of Japan for awhile.”

It was natural for Klaassen to be involved in the project.

“I have really been interested in Japanese culture, they have a lot of history that we should all learn to appreciate,” said Klaassen.  “The cranes are the symbol of hope and that’s exactly what Japan needs. Food is very scarce in parts of Japan right now, bread is limited and clean water, after the flooding.

“I just want to be able to help any way possible,” said Klaassen.

For more information on the tradition of folded cranes, go to the 1000 Cranes of Hope website.

Photos by Karen Gingerich.

Japanese Earthquake Sends Tsunami towards U.S. Soil

By Kendal Phillips and Connor Hughes –

LATEST UPDATE: According to YahooNews the official death toll reached 1,833 on Monday, but the number did not take into account the 2,000 bodies that Japan’s Kyodo News said had been found in the hard-hit Miyagi Prefecture on Japan’s northeast coast.  At least 2,369 people were missing on Monday, the National Police Agency said.  Meanwhile, the second explosion in two days occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.


The Japanese have been hit by one of nature’s biggest punches.

An 8.9 magnitude earthquake, the largest to ever hit Japan, struck Thursday afternoon at 3:00 p.m.causing a 23-foot tsunami wave.  Hundreds of people are reported dead or missing as the wave swept away boats, cars and homes while far-reaching fires burned out of control, including at a nuclear power plant.

The quake has already been followed by more than 5o aftershocks, many of them reaching a magnitude of 6.0 which have been felt as far away as Tokyo. The resulting tsunami headed toward Hawaii and the U.S. west coast at speeds of up to 620 mph.

Tsunami hitting Japan Photo credit:

As far away as Millersville, Pa. is from Japan and Hawaii, a few people in Penn Manor High School are waiting news on the disaster about the conditions and safety of their friends and relatives.

Jen Felegi, a senior, has a grandmother, Sumi Okawa who is originally from Japan. She said she checked this morning if  her relatives in that country are safe.

“Yes, I’ve spoken to my sister.  Everyone is okay,” said Okawa, contacted by Penn Points Friday morning.

Penn Manor senior Lauren Ressler was waiting to hear about an uncle, Alex Victorino, in the Marine Cops stationed in Japan. Ressler said she was worried about some reports that mentioned a building collapsed near where he is stationed.

Later in the day, Ressler got word her uncle, whose daughter attends Hambright Elementary, was not injured in the quake.

A few hours later, the tsunami hit Hawaii and warnings covered the Pacific, as far as South America, Canada, Alaska and the entire U.S. West Coast.

Waves were predicted to hit the western coast of the United States between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. EST Friday.  Evacuations were ordered for parts of Washington and Oregon.  All harbors are closed and vessels were being ordered to leave the harbor.

Cindy Stoner, a chemistry teacher at Penn Manor was on the beach in San Diego when the tsunami waves were rolling in Friday morning.  She said in a phone interview that the “waves were coming in clumps, bunches, 10 to 15 minutes apart.  The animals are quite worked up.”

She estimated about 100 people were on the beach watching the waves.

Stoner said the tsunami was hitting at low tide with a water temperature at about 57 degrees.  Despite warnings, she said “people were preparing to swim” in the strong waves.

Police said 200-300 bodies were found in the northeastern coastal city of Sendai, near the epicenter of the quake, according to  Another 88 were confirmed killed and at least 349 were missing.

In Japan, large fishing boats and other sea vessels rode the high waves into the cities, slamming against overpasses and snapping power lines.

Upturned and partially submerged vehicles were seen floating in the water and ships anchored in ports are crashing against each other.  Train services in northeastern Japan and Tokyo, which normally serve 10 million people a day, were suspended.  Tokyo’s Narita airport was closed indefinitely.

Residents near a Tokyo Electric Power Company nuclear reactor on Friday were ordered by the government to evacuate because of a possible radiation leak as Japan’s strongest earthquake in over a century shut down power plants and oil refineries.

Tsunami in Japan. Photo credit:

The plant’s system was unable to cool the reactor, although the reactor was not leaking radiation, its core remained hot even after the shut down.  The plant is 170 miles northeast of Tokyo according to

Dave Bender, Honors Earth Science teacher at Penn Manor, said there should be some concern about the fire at the nuclear power plant.

“This could affect us but it depends on the extent of the damage (at the plant),” said Bender.  “Nuclear power plants have come a long way in their design and the accident at TMI helped.”

“Japanese are well-prepared for earthquakes because they get so many of them,” said Bender.  “They use a French design that is considered the best.”

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said Kauai was the first of the Hawaiian islands to be hit by the tsunami.  Water flooded the shore of Honolulu and swamped the beach of Waikiki.

Penn Manor student Jing Li took Japanese lessons when she was in China from a teacher who now lives in Tokyo.

She received this e-mail this morning from the teacher to her students:

“I am planning to teach your Friday morning at a regular time, but very bad case, I can not.

We have had earthquake today — most people in Tokyo are ok, but all the trains/subways stop for hours.  I was so lucky I came home early today.  (me and my family are ok, but not my room…)

Right now, we still feel some shakes constantly since 2:45 p.m. (right now after 6 p.m.).and according to the news right now, we may lose some power (electricity) tonight(=our JP lesson time).

I think we will be just fine,”  assures Ms. Reiko

Officials warned that the waves will continue and could become larger, but a scientist at the tsunami warning center said it didn’t appear that they would cause major damage in Hawaii.

“But there is going to be some damage, I’m sure,” said geophysicist Gerard Fryer in Hawaii.