Two art teachers from different districts, bringing students together in a time of tragedy using origami cranes

Payje Davis

Senior Editor-In-Chief

Following the death of Red Lion senior J. Carson Capik in February, graphic arts teacher, Paul Thom with the help of Littlestown art teacher Trinh Sudak, came together to organize a One Thousand Cranes project at both high schools.

An origami project to symbolize remembrance, hope, peace, and healing, A Thousand Cranes originates in Japan and involves folding pieces of paper into the shape of cranes.

The overflowing box of cranes filled Mr. Thom’s classroom before
being taken to Littlestown High School that following week. Cranes piled in fast that week. Picture by Payje Davis

 Red Lion students made the cranes on March 1, 2, and 6 in the LGI with plans to hang them up at Littlestown High School, where Carson’s father, Mr. John Capik, teaches graphic arts.

“It kind of just snowballed from there,” said Thom when he talked about how the students handled the project introduction. “Before I knew it, I had around 100 students in the LGI each day, so it was really rewarding.”

The total number of cranes made here at Red Lion is 1,250 and Littlestown has a total of 1,050, creating a grand total of 2,130 cranes in honor of Carson.

 The initial kick-off to the project here at Red Lion started when Littlestown art teacher Trinh Sudak reached out to Red Lion graphic arts teacher, Paul Thom. Telling him how students at Littlestown were participating in the project to “show support to Mr. Capik.”

Thom was happy with the turnout of the project, even mentioning how students he had never met were just coming to his room to participate.

“I saw the truth of Red Lion, and I saw everybody come together,” said Thom as a recap of observations over the three days the cranes were being made. “Students to my knowledge, that wouldn’t normally be talking to one another were connecting, whether over Carson and his memory or perhaps hope for the future.”  

Thom said the project calls attention to always checking on your friends to simply see how their day is going. “It brings opportunities to come together as a community for the togetherness that I feel like everybody’s been looking for,” Thom said.

The music stands covered in cranes over the course of the musical weekend. The number of cranes multiplied immensely throughout the three days. Picture by Maria Baker

The Red Lion musical, “The Sound of Music” landed right in the middle of the days the cranes were being folded. Maria Baker, who played one of the nuns in the show, took a stack of paper to the performances that weekend.  The cast and crew were hard at work backstage, before, during, and after the show.

“People asked me what are you making, and I told them about the project,” Baker said. “And then it just snowballed from there. We started cranking out these cranes.”

Pretty soon, a stack of 258 cranes piled up on music stands.

“It was so cool to just see everyone at musical come together whether they knew the reason or not, Baker said.  “It was just uplifting to see”

 As of mid-March, the cranes are still nested safely in Mr. Thom’s room, but plans will take flight toward the end of the school year. Pending approval from the administration, the cranes will be displayed at Red Lion’s 2023 graduation, along with Carson’s senior portrait.

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