Remembering the "Class of 2006"
Kennedy Montessori Elementary School, Louisville, Kentucky

Lori Trout explains how she handled the death of the cranes with her students:

  • Phoning Parents. I wanted parents to have the chance to deal with the cranes' deaths within the loving environment of their own homes and to cope using their religious beliefs. Before I called parents on Saturday to let them know what happened, I created a plan that would allow children to have a "remembering ceremony" within our classroom community to help them express their feelings of loss. We would plant bulbs in memory of each of the lost cranes. All parents were very supportive and thankful that I had called.
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    Planting Bulbs in Remembrance. On Monday I had the soil, pots and bulbs in a tub on the floor so the students knew that we would be planting that day. After all buses arrived, I called a class meeting. Students talked about how they felt when they heard the news. They did not want details about how the cranes died. We decorated pots and potted bulbs for each of the cranes. We will plant them outside when the weather gets warm.
  • Sharing Feelings. Being allowed to express feelings aloud can be a critical stage in dealing with grief. Several boxes of tissues were near, but as children will at this age, it wasn't long before they began to share their ideas!
  • Generating Ideas.

    Write sympathy cards to Operation Migration. (Their drawings were incredible. They wrote notes that brought tears to my eyes.)

    Make a basket of 17 folded-paper cranes using origami that we could learn from one student's mom, who is from Japan.

    Make a miniature scene with clay sculptures.

    Think of ways to save future cranes. Ideas included how to make the top of the enclosure go back when the water got high, with solar energy panels to power the system; warning systems; video cameras; money so someone would stay near all the time; purchase a new place for the cranes to go; AND the students themselves could begin a new fundraising campaign.

  • Making a Quilt. The students want to use crane photo transfers to create quilt pieces along with creating their own drawings.
  • Press Coverage for memoriam activities. The reporter asked when would be a good time IF possible, and he showed great sensitivity to our feelings.